Unlike white sugar, brown sugar crystals contain molasses. During the refining process, cane juice is first extracted from sugarcane and then boiled until all the water evaporates. Brown, molasses-rich sugar crystals are left behind a byproduct. The amount of molasses remaining after the crystals are dried determines the type of brown sugar.
Also known as Barbados sugar, Muscovado is the darkest of all brown sugars. During refining, the crystals are dried under low heat, leaving behind much of the molasses. Muscovado sugar has a strong molasses flavour and its crystals are stickier than those of regular brown sugar. It is made in England and is sometimes used in gingersnap cookies.
Turbinado and demerara sugars are both referred to as "raw" sugar in the United States. The sugar crystals are dried in a centrifuge, which removes molasses from the surface of the crystals. Both sugars are characterised by large, coarse granules, light brown colour with a mild molasses flavour. They are frequently used to sweeten tea and other drinks. Turbinado sugar tastes of honey, while demerara has more of the molasses flavour.
The most common brown sugars are light and dark. These are made by adding molasses back to white sugar after the refining process. For light brown sugar, 3 per cent of the molasses is added back to the white sugar; dark brown sugar is made by returning 6 per cent of the molasses. The moisture of the molasses makes brown sugar clump up. Light brown sugar is most commonly used in baking. Dark brown sugar has a stronger flavour and is often used to make gingerbread, mincemeat and baked beans.