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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ancient sugar processing

The processing of sugar products was one of the first extensive agro-industrial operations in the world.

In ancient and early medieval times, the Mediterranean did not know sugar; sweetening came from honey and fruit juices.

Sugarcane’s early use in southeast Ailsa was restricted to chewing and it was cultivated strictly for this purpose. It is believed that the technique of boiling cane juices to make solid sugar was not discovered until the 1st century BC in the Indian subcontinent.

By 325 BC when the armies of Alexander the Great entered the Punjab, they encountered sugar cane.

Perhaps the earliest Islamic era of sugar mill to be excavated is one located in the vicinity of the ancient Achaemenid palace at Susa, in Kuzistan. This region benefited from an extensive irrigation system established during the Parthian and Sasanian dynasties.

Small sugar processing plants appeared in the Jordan valley prior to 1st century spreading to larger operations in Egypt, Cyprus, Sicily and Spain by the 13th century.

Previously, the processing of sugar had been done by crushing the cane, extracting the juice, and boiling it down into a black paste.

Sugar was used as a medicinal agent as well as a sweetener. And then the method of adding potash to clarify the sugar in the refining process was invented. The raw sugar is further refined to produce white and other kinds of sugar.

From Kuzistan, Middle Eastern center for sugarcane cultivation, sugar processing spread to Baghdad which lasted as a refining center until the end of the middle Ages.

The sugar beet extraction was developed late, but sugar cane processing is ancient, When Europeans came to known the product call sugar, it was cane sugar.

During the European Renaissance, and for the succeeding two centuries, sugar manufacturing constituted one of the largest pre-modern industrial operations in the world.
Ancient sugar processing
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