Sugar beet (Beta vulgaris L.)
belongs to the goosefoot family (Chenopodiaceae).
The same species also includes beetroot, fodder beet and spinach. It is a plant with a developed root system that adapts well to different climate and soil conditions. It has been commonly grown for about 150 years, mainly in the northern hemisphere. The first sugar beet varieties were grown in Europe through selecting fodder beet varieties with the highest sugar content.
The currently grown varieties have a sugar content of 18–20%. It is the main raw material used in the sugar industry to receive sugar.
The chemical composition of sugar beet roots depends on many factors, such as: variety, cultivation conditions and harvest time. The dry matter content in the roots is 25%. Ingredients that make up the dry matter are divided into substances composing the pulp (5%) and the juice (20%).
The pulp contains cellulose (1.2%), hemicellulose (1.1%), pectin (2.4%), protein (0.1%), mineral salts (0.1%) and saponin (0.1 %). The pulp is made up of all the solids (insoluble in water) that compose the sugar beet tissue (e.g. the components of the cell nucleus, substances conglomerating cells). The juice contains all soluble cellular components.
The juice contains sugar (17.5%) and non-sugars (2.5%). The latter group is divided into organic (2.0%) and inorganic (0.5%). Organic non-sugars include nitrogen-free substances (0.9%), such as carbohydrates (0.2%), organic acids (0.47%), fat (0.03%), saponin (0.1%) and pigments (0.1%). Organic nitrogenous non-sugars (1.1%) principally include protein (0.7%) and non-protein substances (0.4%). Inorganic non-sugars (0.5%) include mostly minerals, such as potassium (0.25%), sodium (0.4%), calcium (0.08%), magnesium (0.06%) phosphorus (0.08%) and sulfur (0.03%).
Roasted beet sugar can be added to cereal grain beverages (coffee alternatives).
Due to the chemical composition of sugar beet roots, whose main ingredient is sugar (sucrose), they are a raw material constituting primarily a source of energy.