A sugar cube is a sweetener that comes in square shape. Water is usually steamed or incorporated into granulated sugar before molding it. This process makes the cubes contain a lesser amount of sugar than pure granulated sugar. Moreover, a sugar cube usually weighs less than 2.8 grams each. It often acts as a sweetener for coffee or tea. And, sugar cubes aren’t the fancy version of granulated sugar that geometry enthusiasts love. In fact, these cubes already exists even before the birth of granulated sugar. Back in 1840, refined sugar doesn’t come in crystallized form as what we now see and know of. Rather, it comes in cones called sugarloaf. Hence, sweetening beverages was so hard to do; you would have to use a sugar nipper and cut off a part that you intend to use. Soon enough, Jakub Krystof Rad invented sugar cubes. Rad is the director of a sugar refinery in Moravia, Czech Republic. He came up with the idea when his wife suggested him to create a solution for her struggle and several nipper-related injuries. Rad received a patent in 1843 and his production immediately started thereafter.
Sugar Cube Trivia
- Sugar cubes alleviate a burning tongue. So, the next time you set your tongue on fire with that piping hot tamales or empanada, consider grabbing a sugar cube instead of water.
- Sugar cubes can remove seafood odor in the kitchen. So, the next time you cook crawfish boil or any seafood at home, you may opt to ignite a few sugar cubes in a pan to banish that awkward smell in no time.
- Sugar cubes can retract cheese molds. So, the next time you want your cheese to prolong its shelf life, store them along with a few sugar cubes.
- Sugar cubes can be your next go-to first aid. It removes the moisture from the bacteria that exist in fresh wounds and sores; thus, it keeps the bacteria from thriving, growing, and multiplying.
- A sugar cube is a powerful stain remover; it might be your next tide-to-go.
- Sugar cubes can prolong fresh flowers. Add one or two cubes in the vase and see the difference.
- The Blanquefort commune in France is home to the world’s tallest sugar cube tower which measures about 2.08 m or 6’10’’. Camille Courgeon was the person behind the construction; it was completed a minute less than three hours using 2,669 pieces of sugar cubes.
Sugar Cube Buying Guide
While sugar cubes are cheaper and super easy to make at home (see recipe below), some find it more convenient to buy the ones in large supermarkets like H-E-B and Natural Grocer, or online shops. Thus, here are some tips that might help when you opt to go for the store-bought ones:
- The most important thing to consider is that sugar cubes should abstain from moisture; moisture tends to make the product lumpy, decreasing its potency, quality, and shelf life. Thus, pick the ones that are completely sealed or vacuum-sealed if possible to assure that the product hasn’t been contaminated.
- Be sure to double-check the ingredients list as very few brands contain artificial sweeteners.
- Often, you can find more varieties in baking supplies shops and at various farmers’ markets. Our Texas Real Food website is home to all Texan vendors who would love to hear from you.
Sugar Cube Production & Farming in Texas
Sugar cubes are made from either the sugar canes or sugar beets plants. Sugarcanes thrive in tropical climates like Louisiana, Florida, and Hawaii. Although it can be grown in the state of Texas, it is usually planted in limited amounts. The Gulf Coast region has the most number of sugarcane plants and Texan farmers prefer growing them through stalks from a mother plant. Hand planting normally takes place from the end of August until January of the following year. On the other hand, sugar beets thrive in cold climates like the cool temperature during the spring and fall season. It was farm-grown in the state of Texas until Hereford’s processing plant discontinued its operation, leading to the departure of the sugar beet industry in Texas back in 1997. The city of Sugar Land was also home to the leading sugar refinery and distribution center until 2003; Imperial Sugar Co. is the city’s namesake. Nowadays, sugar beets in Texas are only grown in the laboratory, especially in Amarillo and Bushland. Therefore, the state is still home to many producers of sugar cubes.
Pesticides, additives, and chemicals:
The majority of commercially produced sugar cubes doesn’t contain additives and chemicals. It is due to the fact that sugar alone is already a preservative. However, very few brands offer sugar cubes that are mixed with some artificial sweeteners like dextrose, sucralose, maltodextrin, and alike.
Although sugar cubes are usually made from refined white sugar or granulated sugar, you can also have them made from unrefined demerara, turbinado, jaggery, and brown sugar. Nevertheless, all types of sugar cubes may be packaged in either plastic bags, pouches, cartons, paper containers, jars, pet bottles, or packets.
Enjoying Sugar Cubes
Sugar cubes are traditionally consumed as a sweetener for hot beverages such as coffee or tea. But nowadays, sugar cubes are also popular in sweetening cocktails and spirits, especially the old-fashioned, Manhattan, Moscow mule, and absinthe. Another way to enjoy sugar cubes is by adding a few and letting it melt on porridges.
Sugar cubes are ideally kept in an airtight container or a sealable plastic bag. They should be stored in a dark, dry, and cool place away from sunlight and away from hot and humid zones like stoves, grills, or ovens. Sugar cubes virtually last forever if properly stored. However, their potency and quality is at its peak during the first year.
Make your own sugar cubes:
Not only that sugar cubes are one of the easiest things to make at home, but it also makes the most adorable gift. And although sugar cubes aren’t healthy to consume, it can be used in many other ways. Hence, here is a basic recipe for making a few:
Yield: 40-50 cubes, depending on your mold
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp water
- ⅛ tsp food coloring or flavor extract (optional)
- In a medium-sized bowl, place the granulated sugar and add water. Give it a good stir.
- Add the optional food coloring or flavor extract (vanilla, almond, etc.) and mix until homogeneous.
- Double-check the consistency. The sugar should look like wet sand; yet, it should hold its shape when you grasp a palmful. If it’s too dry, add some water or extract; otherwise, if it’s too wet, add some more sugar.
- Once the consistency of sugar is workable and moldable, transfer the sugar into your molds. You can use a spoon or a scoop for convenience. But, I like to just pour them into a mold lined with parchment paper and use an offset spatula to press and scrape the excess. Nonetheless, it is important to press the sugar into the mold and scrape of the excess sugar to end up with a clean mold filled with packed sugar.
- Dry the sugar completely by letting it sit out on a room temperature overnight.