Sensory Differences Between Beet and Cane Sugar Sources

Brittany L. Urbanus, Ginnefer O. Cox, Emily J. Eklund, Chelsea M. Ickes, Shelly J. Schmidt, Soo Yeun Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research concerning the sensory properties of beet and cane sugars is lacking in the scientific literature. Therefore, the objectives of this research were to determine whether a sensory difference was perceivable between beet and cane sugar sources in regard to their (1) aroma-only, (2) aroma and taste without nose clips, and (3) taste-only with nose clips, and to characterize the difference between the sugar sources using descriptive analysis. One hundred panelists evaluated sugar samples using a tetrad test. A significant difference (P < 0.05) was identified between beet and cane sugar sources when evaluated by aroma-only and taste and aroma without nose clips. However, there was no difference when tasted with nose clips. To characterize the observed differences, ten trained panelists identified and quantified key sensory attributes of beet and cane sugars using descriptive analysis. Analysis of variance indicated significant differences (P < 0.05) between sugar samples for 8 of the 10 attributes including: off-dairy, oxidized, earthy, and barnyard aroma, fruity and burnt sugar aroma-by-mouth, sweet aftertaste, and burnt sugar aftertaste. The sensory profile of beet sugar was characterized by off-dairy, oxidized, earthy, and barnyard aromas and by a burnt sugar aroma-by-mouth and aftertaste, whereas cane sugar was characterized by a fruity aroma-by-mouth and sweet aftertaste. This study shows that beet and cane sugar sources can be differentiated by their aroma and provides a sensory profile characterizing the differences. As sugar is used extensively as a food ingredient, sensory differences between beet and cane sugar sources once incorporated into different product matrices should be studied as a next step.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S1763-S1768
JournalJournal of food science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014


  • Beet
  • Cane
  • Descriptive analysis
  • Sugar
  • Tetrad

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science


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