5 Annotations

David Quidnunc  •  Link

History of Sugar -- short essay

"The Bee, the Reed, the Root"
by Ray Burke

(about honey, sugarcane, sugar beets)

Only this paragraph is specifically about sugar in the 17th century:

"By the year 1600, sugar production in the subtropical and tropical Americas had become the world's largest and most lucrative industry. The 'sugar islands' of the West Indies brought great wealth to England and France. Queen Elizabeth displayed her wealth by putting a sugar bowl on her table and using sugar as an everyday food and seasoning. Great Britain took a commanding position in the sugar trade, and consumption of tea in the English diet increased tremendously with the use of sugar."

Sugarcane wasn't cultivated in Barbados until 1700. Sugar wasn't successfully extracted from beets until about 1800 in Germany.

Warren Keith Wright  •  Link

In Pepys's day, refined sugar was molded into firm cone-shaped masses called sugar loaves---a jumbo version of today's sugar cube, it would seem, which one chipped from ad lib. (See 23 March 1659/60 where he receives one as a gift upon going to sea.)

Warren Keith Wright  •  Link

"There were several grades of sugar, from the cones or 'loaves' which had to be broken up, pounded in a mortar and 'searced'" [sieved, before being used to bake with], "to the 'double refined' sugar, of the consistency of coarse salt, which would still have to be pounded and searced before use."
---Liza Picard's "Restoration London," p. 155 ("Recipes"); this book makes an excellent companion to the Companion.

Susanna  •  Link

Sugar from Barbados

Pepys' sugar almost certainly came from Barbados.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

Correction -- Sugar in Barbados

As Susanna says, Barbados did have sugarcane in Pepys's day. In my annotation above ("History of Sugar ...") I misread a sentence in Burke's essay on the website I linked to. Here's the relevant passage:

"In 1700, after sugarcane was introduced, although the population was then only about 30,000, there were some 1,300 sugarcane plantations and nearly 500 factories driven either by windmills or by animals. Barbados was soon producing about 8,000 tons a year."

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.


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