Saturday, November 20

Sugar beet and beet sugar

Sugar beet or beetroot plant is a cultivated plant whose root and bulb contains a high concentration of sucrose. Sugar beet belong to Chenopodiaceae family and genus Beta and species vulgaris.
There are numerous cultivated varieties of this species including leafy vegetables like chard and spinach beet, root vegetables like sugarbeet and fodder-crops like mangelwurzel. Beet sugar is obtained from this plant and the European Union, Russia and the United States are three largest producers in the world.

In the world sugar production, beet sugar accounts for more than 30%. This plant is hardy and is a biennial plant cultivated widely in temperate regions of the world. In the first growing season, the plant produces large storage root and in the second growing season, the plant puts out flowers and seeds utilizing the stored nutrients in the tuber. For being useful for production of sucrose, the plant must be harvested by the end of first growth when it is full of sucrose. sugarbeet
Sugarbeet

Plants tolerating tropical and sub-tropical weather have been developed and are being introduced in tropical areas. Though sugar beet was known to man for thousands of years, its history of use in production of sucrose is recent, dating back to 18th century. After harvest, the produce is hauled to processing plants.

At the processing plants the produce is washed well and mechanically cut into thin slices (called cossettes). Countercurrent exchange method is employed to extract sugar from the cossettes, and the raw juice is collected in storage tanks. The pulp is pressed in screw presses to extract some more sugary juice.

Then the impurities are precipitated and bacterial action is controlled by addition of lime water and passing of carbon dioxide. The supernatant fluid called thin fluid is evaporated to get thick fluid (60% sucrose). Then this fluid is crystallized by an elaborate process to get crystalline beet sugar.

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