Better living through nature
Desiree Bell is inspired by botanicals and natural materials. She is a vegetarian who has a certificate in herbal studies and a certificate from Australasian College of Health Sciences in Aromatherapy. When she isn't in her suburban garden, hiking or crafting, she is teaching pre-k with an emphasis on nature and gardening.
There is a distinct smell this time of year in the town where I live. "Yek," is what most people say. The smell is the sugar beets processed at the Amalgamated Sugar Company. When thinking about what to write this month, a thought occurred to me, "I’ll go get one of those sugar beets off the road and make my own sugar for an article about sugar scrubs." Trucks hauling beets from neighboring towns get off the freeway on their way to the sugar factory and some of the beets from the load fall to the side of the road.
Sugar beets look like very large, cream colored carrots. Sugar is produced in the leaves of the sugar beet plant and stored in the root. They are harvested late-September until mid-February or early March. To process beets into sugar they are washed and sliced into thin strips. Sugar juice is extracted from the strips with hot water. The raw juice is purified with lime and carbon dioxide, then filtered and concentrated. It is then evaporated further in a batch vacuum pan and the sugar is crystallized. Then the sugar crystals are separated in a centrifuge, washed and dried.
Sugar beets can be grown in cooler regions and on land of poor quality, which makes them an attractive alternative to cane sugar because they are cheaper to grow. Sugar cane requires a tropical environment where land is often at a premium in cost.
If store bought sugar doesn't say it's made from sugar cane on the packaging, then the sugar is most likely from beets. Even though they come from two different plants, beet and cane sugar are the same compound. But some say cane sugar is superior to beet sugar.
One cold dreary day after work I headed over to the sugar beet factory, parked my car down the road from the freeway off-ramp and picked up one big beet. When I arrived home I searched the internet on how to make sugar from beets, then proceeded to try and make it. Try these instructions from Richters Herbs to process your beet sugar. The sugar didn’t turn out exactly how it was supposed to, but I did use the ¾ cup of brownish, moist beet tasting "sugar" to make banana muffins. The muffins turned out good and with no beet taste.
Here is a beet sugar body scrub I created for dry skin.
• 1 tablespoon shea butter
• 1 tablespoon coconut oil
• 8 ounces beet sugar
• 1 teaspoon glycerin
• ½ ounce sunflower oil
• 1,600 IU vitamin E
• 30 to 40 drops of essential oils (depends on which oils you use)
1. Put the beet sugar in a bowl.
2. Melt shea butter and coconut oil in a small pan on low heat.
3. Remove from heat: Add glycerin, sunflower oil, vitamin E and essential oils to melted shea butter and coconut oil. Mix well.
4. Add the mixture to the beet sugar. Mix well.
5. Use to exfoliate and remove dead skin, which will create soft, smooth and glowing skin. Be aware that you tub or shower will be slippery after you use the scrub.