sucrose (sōˈkrōs) [key], commonest of the sugars, a white, crystalline solid disaccharide (see carbohydrate) with a sweet taste, melting and decomposing at 186°C to form caramel. It is known commonly as cane sugar, beet sugar, or maple sugar, depending upon its natural source. It has the same empirical formula (C12H22O11) as lactose and maltose but differs from both in structure (see isomer). Hydrolysis of sucrose yields D-glucose and D-fructose; the process is called inversion and the sugar mixture produced is known as invert sugar because, although sucrose itself rotates plane-polarized light to the right, the mixture "inverts" this light by rotating it to the left. Sucrose is obtained from the "juice" of sugarcane or the sugar beet and from the sap of the sugar maple. The cane or beets are crushed, and the juice, after treatment with lime to neutralize acids, is evaporated in vacuum pans that permit the process to be carried out at relatively low temperatures. The brownish liquid obtained, called molasses, evaporates further, leaving the sugar, brownish in color, which is dissolved in water, treated with animal charcoal to remove the color resulting from the presence of impurities, and recrystallized.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
More on sucrose from Infoplease:
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Organic Chemistry