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beets v. sugar beets

What's the difference between beets and sugar beets? Are sugar beets just a high-sugar variety of beet? And, most specifically, can I use regular beets (in this case, Detroit Dark Red) to make sugar?
 
I don't know much about beets in general, but when I was a kid we lived a year and a half on a sugar beet farm in England. It was fabulous. Yes, you can use the beets to make sugar. I'm sure there's a more sophisticated method than we used, but we basically just boiled them in water, removed the solid matter (because the sugar was now dissolved), then boiled or baked off the water to leave a residue of sugar in the pot/pan. You could also just use it as a syrup by boiling it down to the consistency you prefer. It tasted good but different from store-bought sugar, because it is less processed and still has the beety flavor in it.

I don't know anything about growing them--we just harvested them from the edges of the fields where the mechanical harvesters missed them. I know they used crop dusters ( :O ), so they were obviously treating them with something chemical, but I don't know what. The crop dusters were pretty cool to watch, too!

:^O :_|

Anyway, good luck with your endeavor. Maybe I'll try sugar beets, for nostalgia's sake. Razzer
 
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There is a difference between members of the beet family, in size, sugar content and uses.
A table beet is for human consumption as a vegetable. A sugar beet has been bred for higher sugar content. You can eat a sugar beet as a vegetable, but a table beet hasn't got the high sugar content you need for making sugar and molasses from. Sugar beets can credit Austria for much of their qualities - the government there got the sugar content up to 36% by selection alone, (no laboratory) as they were trying to come up with a sugar source that didn't come from sugar cane, which to the landlocked country was very expensive. Thanks to their work, beet sugar is consumed more often than cane sugar in the world.
A mangel is another beet family member, that grows up to 60 lbs. and is mainly used for livestock feed, although a human can eat it too.
All beets have nutritious leaves for humans. Swiss chard is one member that is grown only for it's leaves.

www.ritchers.com may have instructions for making beet sugar and molasses.
 
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Not much, although some have been bred to have a higher sugar content than others and some others, such as chard, are more a foliage plant than a root crop. Mangels have been used as animal feed for many generations and someone found that some of these had that higher sugar level and it could be extracted. Beet sugar is, or was, a fairly large industry on the eastern side of Michigan. Pioneer brand was a beet sugar rather than a cane sugar.
 
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I found a site with some interesting facts about beet sugar.
http://www.referenceforbusiness.com/industries/Food-Kindred-Products/BeetSugar
My apologies for writing Austria was responsible for upping the sugar content. It is Germany that has that honour.
 
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