'Why does powdered sugar have to be so fine, anyway?' we asked ourselves. We understand that for some things, like frosting, the particle size affects the texture of the product, and some folks don't like even a hint of graininess on their confections. (They are confection perfectionists.) Then we thought, 'wait a minute, we don't mind a little graininess (maybe we won't even be able to tell!), and we have a tool to fix this!' Since we can change how finely ground things come out of the grain mill, we can make powdered sugar that isn't quite so finely powdered! Then Katie can make some lemon bars and we can sprinkle our not-quite-so-powdery sugar on them and see if we still accidentally snort the stuff. (Katie's lemon bars alone would be worth the experiment.)
Additionally, one of the drawbacks of using raw sugar, which is like a strange combination of brown sugar and white sugar with large, brown transparent crystals that take forever to dissolve in anything, is that the crystals are too darn large. We could probably cut the crystals in half and make them into a much more usable form. So, let's see what the grain mill can do!
|We're going to try to grind a half cup of the raw sugar into powdered sugar, and half cup into the same size as standard granulated white sugar. First up, the powdered sugar!|
|Off to a good start! It looks like powdered sugar, but not quite as fine.|
|The next finest one looks like it will let the powdered stuff pass, but hold back the table sugar-sized stuff that was our second goal.|
|It worked, too! The stuff that made it through the second colander still has quite a range of sizes, but we're out of screen sizes to use. (Plus, we've proven the concept and the mix is fine for our own use.) The four bowls in front are the grades from the grinding (the far left is unground). The two bowls in the back are the standard white sugar and commercial powdered (confectioners) sugar. They're in order of grain size, decreasing from left to right. If you want to know more about the actual standard grain sizes of sugars, check page 42 of this book.|
|It's easier to see the range in grain sizes on something else, like strawberries! The far right is the commercial powdered sugar, and the third from the left is the standard white sugar. Let's make some lemon bars!|
|One lemon bar down, intentionally inhaled just before biting, and no sugar in lungs or nostrils...that means it worked! Good job, Katie. Better eat a second one just to make sure it wasn't a fluke.|
We could've probably made the powdered sugar a lot faster with a food processor or blender, but it's good to know that the grain mill will work if we need it to, and that the colanders will work to sieve out the larger particles, which would still be there with the other methods. In the future, maybe we'll work on a solar-, wind-, or human-powered ball mill to do this kind of work. Stay tuned for updates on that!
Have you ever accidentally snorted powdered sugar off a lemon bar? Do you have a different way to make powdered sugar? Tell us about it in the comments section below!