Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Making Beet Sugar: When Failure is... Wow!

Wow!  That's... Wow!

When faced with a really, really ugly failure, it's always best to say as little as possible, so as not to draw too much attention to it.  My reaction, therefore, was a brave attempt at simplicity.  A simple...

Unfortunately, this simplicity is not attained when you repeat a single word more than once, and especially when it's said at least six times in rapid succession, growing louder with each utterance.

You may wonder why that was my word of choice after a complete and total failure.

Most people, after all, would say, "&$@^", or maybe even, "&*#%!"

I, however, had my daughter in the kitchen with me, so had to rely on more innocent exclamations of frustration.

What was this complete failure, you ask?

I decided to make beet sugar using the beets I had purchased at the farmers market.  Much of the sugar that we buy at the grocery store is a blend of cane and beet sugar.  They taste identical, evidently.  If I made it myself, I'd have no worries about whether or not I was eating GM beet sugar.

Great reason to try it!

A book called The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It that I had checked out at the library had a short explanation of how to do it:

how to make beet sugar

Basically, boil the heck out of it until there's no liquid remaining.  Simple, right?


Rather than pressing all of the juice out, which seemed like way too much work, I took out my juicer and had it do all of the work.  I then poured the juice into a cast iron pan and let it boil as I stirred in all of my self-sufficiency inspired happiness.

singing with happiness

The beet juice was red and syrupy.  Things seemed to be going well...

beet juice syrup

But after a while, I realized that maybe, just maybe, boiling the beet juice until it lost all of its liquid wasn't very practical.

burnt beet juice

Indeed, the idea began to seem downright awful.

See, there's this thing about the loss of liquid causing things to burn...

But, hey!  There was still some redness in the pan, right?  Maybe I just needed to keep going....

Burnt Beet Crumble

In the end, I ended up with what I lovingly refer to as Burnt Beet Crumble.

Now, in my defense, if you like beets, it didn't taste all that bad.  It may actually be a really yummy candy.  It was definitely sweet, after all.

Unfortunately, I don't particularly like beets.  At all.

This DIY project was a failure.

                                              ...But it was only attempt one!

That's right!  I'll be trying it, again, probably next year, since it's too late to plant sugar beet seeds.

I've learned a lot from this.

First and foremost, I've learned that sweet beets aren't necessarily sugar beets.

                                                                                                                   At all.

                                                                                                                         Not even close.

The thing is, sugar beets, from what I discovered after my failure, are a creamy, almost white color.  Not red.  I guess that whole researching before beginning a project thing is kind of important, huh?

I also learned that you can boil the juice until it becomes a thick syrup, then spread it out and allow it to crystallize on its own, breaking it apart bit by bit.  No need to boil the heck out of it and nearly burn your house down.

That's good to know!

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