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harvest sugar beet Just finished getting back to “normal” production, after a terrible year wracked by 2020 with a virus jaundice ! After sowing the beet seeds in March-April, and after pampering the young shoots for months, it’s time to pick “” the precious roots from which the beetroot will be extracted. Sugar Long overdue in the form sucrose. Rooting begins in September and lasts until December and is followed by several processing operations in factories, allowing France to be today the second largest producer of beet sugar in the world. In 2020-2021, France produced about 3.4 million tons of beet sugar and was only surpassed by Germany in Europe, producing about 4100 during the same period. France also recorded a beet sugar harvest in 2020-2021 of 9.4 tons/ha, almost double what it was fifty years ago.

The French sector was created in the north (from Pas-de-Calais to Loiret) and in the east (up to Bas-Rhin) in France. It is a complement to the sugarcane sector, which is developed in the outer provinces (Guadeloupe, Martinique, and La Réunion) and between them, these French sectors make the country the largest producer of sugar in Europe.

Beetroot, did you say beetroot?

The sugar beet Not to be confused with its cousin, fodder beet. first gifts white conical root Which develops entirely in the ground and contains approximately 15%-20% sugar. The second form has more diverse shapes, its root can already be white, orange or red and conical in shape, but also oval or round. The sugar content in it is lower than that of sugar beets as it ranges between 5% and 10%.

Sugar … or rather sugars

Sugar is a component of many foods and everyday products. It is used, for example, in handmade pastries or prepackaged biscuits, in sugary drinks, powders for breakfast, YogurtOr sweets, fruit preserves, or simply as table sugar. It is also included in a less intuitive way in the composition of pharmaceutical products such as syrups and tablets. From a nutritional point of view, sugar is part of the family carbohydrates which are classified according to their composition. Simple carbohydrates like fructoseThe glucose and the galactose consist of one or two moleculesThis is, for example, the case of sucrose, which is made up of glucose and fructose. These simple carbohydrates are found naturally in fruits, vegetables, and milk or are added to it suffix in food. They are indicated in the “including sugars” line in the nutrition tables. Complex carbohydrates consist of long chains of glucose, such asstarch who is in Carbohydrates Such as bread, pasta and rice.

The main form of sugar found in sugar beetAs in cane sugar, it is sucrose and consists of glucose and fructose. The sugar extracted from sugar beets is found in the white conical root of each plant. They form the energy reserves that the plant accumulates during the first year of its life, in order to reproduce the following year. Therefore, it is necessary to uproot the plants before they enter the reproductive stage and use the sugar they contain for reproduction.

From growing beets to sugar cubes

Once the sugar beets are filled with sugar, I ripped them from the fields and then washed them And cut into thin slices called scraps. The latter is washed at 70 ° C in water, which allows them to convert sugar through a process identification. Then the sugary juice is filtered to remove the foam and then concentrated by evaporation until it is filtered nomination Initially it contains 13% sugar, which eventually reaches 70%. Then small pieces of sugar are added to the previous mixture so that the sugar becomes in the mixture liquid They clump there and cause these crystals to grow. This crystallization stage is followed by centrifugation in order to separate the sugar from the molasses (a residual dark brown or black syrup that cannot crystallize) and then a stage of hot drying of the sugar crystals.

Once the crystals have dried, they are packed in their raw form in relation to powdered sugar or in the form of squares thanks to the hydration and molding step. It takes about a Kg Beets yield 150 grams of sugar and it takes an average of one sugar beet to produce 25 sugar cubes.

Everything is good in beets

Besides sugar, sugar beets are considered issue The premiere of many other products, such asalcohol For alcoholic gel, cosmetics, perfume or bioethanol fuel. For example, sugar residues enter the process fermentation and then distillation for the production of bioethanol. This liquid fuel is then incorporated into gasoline and used in gasoline-type engines. There is up to 10% bioethanol in Sans . area Leadership 95-E10 and between 60% and 85% in Superethanol-E85.

This fuel, Superethanol-E85, reduces emissions From Carbon Dioxide and 90% more fine particles compared to gasoline. It’s also purchasing power fuel, thanks Its average price is 0.76 € / liter. It thus saves more than €500 for 13,000 kilometers traveled, including a 25% increase in consumption compared to petrol.

Article produced in partnership with AIBS

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