Sugar cane and the beginnings of sugar production
The origin of the German word Zucker leads us to India, as do the first evidences of using sugar cane for sweetening. The word’s origin is the Old Indic śárkarā, which firstly designated anything ground or grainy and was then transferred to the dry, granular mass of sugar. If you consider the further development towards today’s term, it seems that you trace the way of cane sugar to Germany.
By the Indian campaign of Alexander the Great, the Old Indic word entered the Greek language and became sakcharon where the Latin term saccharum derived from.
Likewise borrowed from the Old Indic was the Arabic word sukkar, which came to Spain and Sicily with the Arabic reign in medieval times and thus entered the Romance languages such as Spanish (azúcar), French (sucre and the derived English word sugar) and Italian (zucchero).
Through the sugar trade from Venice both sugar itself and its name finally came to Germany where the Italian zucchero turned into the German word Zucker.
From 8000 BC
Sugar cane spreads to India and Persia from New Guinea.
Through the Indian campaign of Alexander the Great, sugar cane comes to be known in ancient Europe.
In Persia, a method for extracting sugar from sugar cane is developed.
Through Arabic campaigns of conquest, sugar cane reaches Cyprus and Sicily and is cultivated there. Later on, sugar cane is also grown in Spain.
As from 1096
During the First Crusade the crusaders from Central Europe get to know the sugar cane and acquire the methods of sugar production. For the first time, sugar reaches Europe on a regular basis, with Venetian merchants dominating the sugar trade until about 1500.
Sugar cane is also cultivated on the Azores and Canary Islands.
Through his expeditions, Columbus brings the sugar cane to the New World and hence lays the foundation of cane sugar industry on the American continent.
In Augsburg the first German sugar refinery is built, further ones are built shortly afterwards.
England, France and the Netherlands dominate the sugar production and trade. Sugar refineries emerge in all major European commercial cities.
The slave revolt on Santo Domingo leads to the collapse of the sugar industry. With this, the world’s biggest sugar producer drops out leading to a tremendous increase in the sugar price.