Making sugar from beets

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Cyngbaeld, Jan 17, 2005.

  1. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    I'm planning on growing some sugar beets this year. I was wondering if anybody has tried making syrup and/or sugar from beets that they grow. Any tips?
     
  2. rwood

    rwood Well-Known Member

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    What an unreal idea. I have thought about doing that myself when daydreaming about 100% self sufficient living. Your thread promted me to look into it.

    http://www.sucrose.com/lbeet.html

    A nice little introduction there. Seems the process is only complicated due to the large scale and commodity style proceedures required by the big refineries, but the process itself should surely be able to be done at home following those basic outlines.

    Generations did it before the industrial revolution. Surely it can be done. Inneficient and laborious to be sure. But we dont have the homesteading bug for nothing.

    I hope there is someone out there who has done it. But if not, please try it. Even if you just boil a big pot on your stove and reduce it down from there, its worth trying once. :yeeha:

    In a year or so I will try it myself.
    Raphael
     

  3. Deb&Al

    Deb&Al Well-Known Member

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    rwood,
    thanks for finding that link and posting it. it was interesting how they make commercial white sugar.

    my mom's family is all from east tennessee, and they had store-boughten white sugar once in a great while.

    they also used honey, which they kept bee hives in bee-gums, which was a kind of tree, that when felled, seemed attractive for bees to set up housekeeping in.

    they also grew sugar beets and would have what she calls stir-offs, where they would make sourgham, which is different than molasses.

    i am fascinated with stuff like this, as my mom's generation seems to be the last generation to have lived like this, not by choice, like us mostly here on this site, but because they had to.

    of course, it goes without saying that cookery without white sugar is going to taste vastly different than what most people are used to that exclusively use white sugar.

    i know this is kind of strange, but then i'm known for doing these kinds of 'experiments'. :)

    five years ago i cooked for a week using only ingredients my mother and grandmother would have had available, and prepared meals in keeping with that time of the year, which was the first week in july.

    we were doing lots of work outside, putting in fencing for the pasture we're sectioning off for animals, and building a turkey run, and just all the other general gardening and everyday chores.

    well, three days into this 'experiment', we couldn't believe our energy-stamina, etc..

    as an example, we used to drink sodas, diet and regular, especially when we were hot. big no-no.

    we also were prone to stopping work in the past for a snack, usually some white-sugar/white flour concoction. also a big no-no.

    etc.,etc.

    suffice it to say that we realized how hard we were making our bodies work, just to process all the wrong things we were putting into it, that no wonder we had trouble with energy-stamina.

    and it wasn't just the white sugar/white flour thing. it was a lot of stuff.

    well, i don't want to drift this thread. yes, making sugar would be a great experiment to try. i would certainly be interested in hearing people's experience in doing this.

    debbie
     
  4. rwood

    rwood Well-Known Member

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    I too get a kick out of doing this old timer stuff. I recently spent a weekend with my italian grandmother (nonna) who moved out to australia with my english grandfather (who she met during WW2), from Italy where her family had a farm that was in their family for 400 years.

    They were completely self sufficient, producing everything from flour to wine and olive oil, rice and cured meats and cheeses. Their small cash income was from silk production. Her memories are priceless and i am undertaking a challenge of writing them all down. She would now how to make this sugar from beets.

    My favourite book is "The complete guide to self sufficiency" by John Seymore, I must have read it 10 times by now.

    My wife and I have just sold our city home and are now looking for a farm where we can do all this stuff as a hobby, and hopefully longer term (10 years) as a business.

    Hope to see you around these forums Debbie, good luck with your healthy lifestyle.

    Raphael
     
  5. mikell

    mikell Well-Known Member

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    I can tell it smells real BAAADDD



    We have mountains of beets in the thunb area.
    I don't know how to post pictures PM me and I'll send a pic to ypu


    mikell
     
  6. Deb&Al

    Deb&Al Well-Known Member

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    raphael,

    what an awsome grandmother you have. :)

    debbie
     
  7. rwood

    rwood Well-Known Member

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    Truley she is. Her life would make a great movie.

    Im going to Hijack this thread for a second.

    One of the greatest things she has in her home, is a roll of old straw rope. It looks like nothing at all. BUt apparently during winter generations ago they would get all of the straw and sit there and weave rope and strapping to make baskets and other things with for the spring. This rope is on a roll with the year 1828 written on it, and has been passed down by CHANCE!! to her. Just touching it, knowing my families hand worked that material almost 200 years ago sends goosebumps up my spine. She says that I remind her of her father and thats why Ive got the farming bug.

    I will speak to her tomorrow to see what she knows about making sugar.
    Cheerio
    Raf
     
  8. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

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    "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" has a brief mention of making the sugar beet syrup. Page 304 in my edition.

    Raf, any chance you could post a photo of that old rope or email a photo of it? I would be interested in seeing what it looks like. What a family legacy and keepsake. Call me sentimental, but I love stuff like that.

    I saw a show a few years ago where natives of Peru made grass rope, then proceeded to build a foot bridge with it.
     
  9. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I also saw that show, where they made a grass bridge that hung over a very deep valley or gouge or something. They made a new one every year.

    I am plumb smack in the middle of sugar beet country. You can always tell when they are processing beets because one of the by products is methane gas. It takes a lot of beets to make sugar. I think only 2% by weight ends up as sugar. Cane is really more efficient, but of course, we can't grow it here in the great white north. A short time ago the company that processes the beets tried to get the farmers to buy the processing plants. Some wanted to, but others are hesitant. There's gotta be a reason to part with the money cow. The reason is that foreign cane sugar is likely to be brought in which would destroy the sugar market. Beet farmers really hate the idea of sharing the white sugar market. Sugar beets are the only crop that guarentees a good income here. The plant used to pay by weight, they now pay by sugar percentage in the beets, which has made the farmers pay closer attention to quality rather than the size of the crop.

    I wonder if Carla Emery has a chapter on making sugar from sugar beets. I seem to recall she had something on using sorghum.
     
  10. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    She mentions it briefly. I was hoping for a little more info. Anybody who knows somebody who has done this? Input welcome!

    Don't mind the thread drift. Sometimes that is how you find out THE most interesting things.

    I know that the sugar won't taste like what we get in the stores. I'm trying to get away from that and back to 'Real Food'. Thought about getting bees, and I might yet. But wanted to give the beets a try. I'm planning on using the pulp for animal feed. Fatten up a hog or steer maybe? Anybody use it for poultry?
     
  11. marknfl

    marknfl Member

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    I have been thinking about this also. Wanting to become as self relient as possible. I found this wbsite with directions on it as to how to make sugar from sugar beets. It is short and seems a simplifed on the site. But who knows. If someone tries it before please post the results.
    http://www.christianhomekeeper.com/beet.html
     
  12. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    Thanks. I googled my eyes out and that did not come up. Won't get to try making the syrup till I get the beets grown. LOL. But will post results this fall. Maybe someone else will try it this year too and we can compare results and methods.
     
  13. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    AHA!

    I have been HOPING that someone would come up with something: I have always wanted to know.

    It occurs to me that if the sugar finished evaporating in the oven, the risk of burning the bottom would be much less.
     
  14. GRHE

    GRHE Mountain Ogre

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    This is one I am preparing to do myself this year. I got a sample of very high sugar content beets that I will be putting in this spring. One thing to remember is don't throw out the pulp afterwards, it is great livestock feed. One of the reasons pork prices took a big jump on the open market a few years ago is Coke broke all there contracts with the beet farmers and I believe went to corn syrup rather than sugar-beet syrup at most of their plants. The left over pulp was a cheap high energy feed additive for pig feed, and without the pulp available they had to go to more expensive sources. Horses, cattle, poultry, all really like it as well, just be careful to ration it when you give it to them. Even after you leach out the easily removed sugar, there is still plenty in there and you just
     
  15. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

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    Just remember that cooking down syrup inside of the house may leave sticky coatings on the ceiling and walls----at least I think I recall reading that on the forums. I think they were talking about maple syrup however.

    I, too, like the idea of making sugar from beets. However I really don't use enough sugar to justify it probably. It was several years ago that I bought a 50# bag of sugar at Sam's Club and I'm still using out of the same bag. Sugar is pretty cheap in bulk at Sam's.
     
  16. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    I just read beets are good for the liver so lots of folks are using beet powder to make fruit smoothies. Odd. Maybe another use for the sugar beets?

    I was thinking of getting one of those steam juicers like Lehman's sells (one of these days) to make fruit juice. I wonder how it would work with beets?
     
  17. Windy in Kansas

    Windy in Kansas In Remembrance

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    I really doubt a steamer would do much because beets are a rather dense pulp.

    Interesting about the liver/beet connection. Did you know that some Brits use regular table beet slices on hamburgers? I understand they use them about like we use onions. Vinegar on french fries was my first experience with some of their tastes, and I must say, I approve. Wonder what McDonalds or Wendy's would say if you ordered your burger with beet? lol.
     
  18. mikell

    mikell Well-Known Member

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    Incase you guys want to know everything about making sugar they are nearly allways hiring. I have a friend who is a boiler mechanic in Bay City works 7 days 14+ hours year round.


    mikell


    http://www.michigansugar.com/
     
  19. Karen Lizzie

    Karen Lizzie Member

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    Speaking as a Brit I can safely say I don't know anyone who puts beetroot on their burgers. I think it may have been someone's individual taste but it doesn't mean to say that it wouldn't taste good :eek:
     
  20. Blu3duk

    Blu3duk Well-Known Member

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    Dad grew an acre of Mangels one year for experimenting with cattle feed and sugar making...... what the deer did not eat the cows jumped the fence and finished off before they got as big as garden size ...... so it seems a person would have need to keep out the deer.

    One thing dad knew he was gonna have to get was a beet chopper, cause beets are not the easiest root to cut up.... the old timers had a contraption that looked like a paper cutter [best way i can descibe it] that would hold several blades and could put good leverage onto them for cutting/ chopping up small pieces to boil down easier. plus small pieces are easier for animals to eat.

    As a small boy of about 5 I can remember traveling through Scotts BLuff Nebraska and waking up to the smell of the beet pulp mill that was producing a nasty smell that day we passed through..... all these years later and it is like yesterday.... but then i dont think it would be as bad if ou were doing a small batch in your woodshed.

    William