Do you have a fondness for sweet tooth? However, do you know the history of sugar? Sugar, which has become an irreplaceable part of our lives, had just a humble beginning. The demand for a sweet tooth led to an increase in the production of sugar. The large scale production of sugar also in turn made sugar an affordable commodity. Right from its initiation in India during the Gupta Dynasty, to its spread around the world, sugar has some interesting information associated with it. To know more about the background & origin of sugar, read through the history given below.
Interesting Information On The Background And Origin Of Sugar
In India And South-East Asia
The sugarcane available in the earlier times originated in different locations, such as the S. barberi started off in India and S. edule and S. officinarum variety originated from New Guinea. The first traces of crystallizing sugacane date back to the Gupta dynasty in India. Around this time, people chewed sugarcane in its raw form to extract the sweetness, as the concept of crystallized sugar was unimportant. The method of turning sugarcane juice into granulated crystals was discovered by the Indians. They realized that the crystallized form was not only easy to store, but also convenient, when it came to transportation.
This discovery, made by the Imperial Guptas, was a start of what is called is called the sugar production. While it were the Buddhist monks, who brought crystallization process to China, Indian envoys in Tang China take the credit for teaching sugarcane cultivation methods in China, after Emperor Taizong of Tang had let his interests known. This way sugar became one of the important ingredients in cooking and desserts. The earlier method for crystallizing sugar involved grinding or pounding the cane to extract the juice. This juice was, then, boiled or dried in the sun to yield sugary solids that resembled gravels.
In Muslim World And Europe
The start of the sugar production technique in India slowly passed over to the world, at large. The Arab entrepreneurs were the first ones to adopt the technique. In the Muslim Agricultural Revolution phase, these people learned the art and transformed it into a large-scale industry. They had set up some of the preliminary sugar mills, refineries, factories and plantations. Not only had the Arabs retained the art in the Muslim world, but, along with the Berbers, spread it to the Western European countries and in the Eastern Africa.
Sugar started replacing honey, the only other available sweetener. Venice started setting up estates to produce sugar to export to Europe. In the last decade of the 14th century, better press were developed, which enhanced the production of the juice from the cane. This led to the economic expansion of sugarcane plantations even to parts of Andalucia and Algarve. The roots of sugar production spread to the Canary Islands in the 1420s. Further, sugar production started in Madeira in the year 1455. By the end of the 15th century, African slaves had started working in the sugarcane plantations of the Kingdom of Castile around Valencia.
In the New World
Christopher Columbus stay at Gomera in the Canary Islands in the month of August of 1492 brought sugar to the New World. The Portuguese extended the sugar production to Brazil. While Hispaniola started its sugar harvest in 1501, Cuba and Jamaica got a taste of this sweetener in the 1520s. The production of sugar also led to the demand of cast iron gears, levers, axles and other implements that were required in the production phase, leading to the initial industrial revolution.
Sugar gained in popularity and soon became equally valuable to gold. The Dutch were responsible in bringing sugar from South America to the Caribbean Islands. This sweetener, a precious commodity, soon became as priceless as musk, pearls and spices. However, the prices of sugar declined considerably taking into consideration its large scale production. Right from being a luxurious commodity of the rich, it became a necessity of the masses. Sugar production increased in mainland North American colonies, in Cuba, and in Brazil.
The European colonization of the Americas made Caribbean the world's largest source of sugar. With time, the French colony known as Saint-Dominguez and Jamaica became the major sugar producers in the world. Sugar plantation, not only led to technology development, but also increased the demand for manpower and labor. In the 18th century, sugar became one of the most popular commodities. This was the direct result of changed eating habits, such as consuming jams, candy, tea, coffee, cocoa, processed foods and other sweets more profoundly.
Sugar became a necessary commodity of the world. Right from the basic sweetened tea to the more luxuriousconfectionery and chocolates and sugarloaf, it became an item required by all the levels of society. Soon, sugar production spread to other parts of the world including Fiji, Mauritius, Colombia, Natal and Queensland. However, this labor-intensive process of turning sugarcane into its end-product, sugar, is also related with large-scale slavery. Nonetheless, thanks to the Indians, today, we do not have to chew raw sugarcane to satisfy our sweet tooth!