The smallest sugar factory
THE SUGAR BEET PLANT (beta vulgaris saccharifera)
is a biennial plant belonging to the goosefoot family. The taproot, the so-called beet, which is used to produce sugar, forms during the growing phase in the first year. A flower and seeds form during the growing phase of the second year. This relies on the sugar stored in the beet. With a sugar concentration of 16 to 20%, the sugar beet offers the highest yield among sugar-producing plants (sugar beet and sugar cane). The water content is around 75%.
LEAVES OF THE SUGAR BEET
With the aid of solar energy and the chlorophyll in its leaves, the sugar beet plant converts carbon dioxide from the air, water and minerals in the soil into sugar. This process is called photosynthesis. The sugar beet foliage are left on the fields during harvesting.
HEAD OF THE SUGAR BEET
The head of the sugar beet plant, from where the leaves branch off, contains many non-sugar materials and therefore needs to be removed during harvesting.
ROOT OF THE SUGAR BEET
The sugar produced during photosynthesis is stored in the root of the sugar beet. The lighter areas are those in which the concentration of sugar is particularly high.
Sugar, or sucrose to be precise, is made from sugar beet grown in Europe. This involves purified juice being extracted from washed and cut sugar beet in a series of process steps. This juice is then concentrated until the sugar contained crystallises.
This does not involve the use of any additives. The sugar is purified by means of several recrystallisation processes to obtain pure, clear crystals which appear white due to the refraction of light. The sucrose content of these crystals is nearly 100%. Sugar is therefore a high-purity foodstuff with an almost unlimited shelf life if stored appropriately.