July 31, 2012
Sugar cubes are one of the many different forms of sucrose, common table sugar.
Sugar cubes are extolled for their portability, maneuverability, and predictable quantity (each cube is approximately 3/4 tsp. or 3 g of sugar). There also exists a certain romanticism to sugar cubes; placed at the table, they harken back to an earlier time when they would commonly sweeten beverages like hot tea.
Sugar cubes, or sugar lumps as they are sometimes called, are formed by lightly steaming granulated sugar to hold thier shape after pressing. They are pure sucrose, and do not include the anti-caking agents found in other sugars like powdered sugar. As such, each cube or lump contains
or 12 “calories.”
Sucrose itself is a disaccharide, a two molecule of two different simple sugar monomers connected by a covalent bond. This “glycocidic linkage” occurs a very specific position on each monomer’s carbon ring. While some disaccharides have the same monomer (maltose is a glucose-glucose disaccharide), each sucrose molecule contains one glucose and fructose each.
Different disaccharides arise from the geometry of their simple sugar subunits. For example, two glucosyl subunits code for trehalose–a sugar made by weevils–in addition to maltose. In sucrose, the glycocidic linkage exists at the first carbon (C1) on the glucosyl subunit and the second carbon (C2) on the fructosyl unit. Other [much less common] glucose-fructose disaccharides include turanose (C1, C3), maltulose (C1, C4), palatinose and gentiobiulose (both C1, C6).
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