Sugarcane (Saccharum) is a genus of 6 to 37 species (depending on taxonomic interpretation) of tall perennial grasses (family Poaceae, tribe Andropogoneae), native to warm temperate to tropical regions of the Old World. They have stout, jointed, fibrous stalks that are rich in sugar and measure 2 to 6 meters tall. All of the sugar cane species interbreed, and the major commercial cultivars are complex hybrids. In most countries where sugarcane is cultivated, there are several foods and popular dishes derived from it, such as:
- Direct consumption of raw sugarcane cylinders or cubes, which are chewed to extract the juice, and the bagasse is spat out
- Freshly extracted juice (garapa, guarab, guarapa, guarapo, papelón, 'aseer asab, Ganna sharbat, mosto or caldo de cana) by hand or electrically operated small mills, with a touch of lemon and ice, makes a popular drink.
- Molasses, used as a sweetener and as a syrup accompanying other foods, such as cheese or cookies
- Rapadura, a candy made of flavoured solid brown sugar in Brazil, which can be consumed in small hard blocks, or in pulverized form (flour), as an add-on to other desserts.
- Sugarcane is also used in rum production, especially in the Caribbean.
- Cane sugar syrup was the traditional sweetener in soft drinks for many years, but has been largely supplanted (in the US at least) by high-fructose corn syrup, which is less expensive, but is considered by some to not taste quite like the sugar it replaces.
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