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Delessert, Benjamin

As head of the Bank of France, in the early 19th century, started the production of beet sugar - for blockaded, sugar-starved Frenchmen. He set up huge factories at Passy about 1810. He installed modern steam engines (only invented in Britain, by James Watt, forty years before), and developed ways to strain the molasses and crystallise the sugar.

Napoleon visited the factories, honoured Delessert, and ordered sugar beets to be planted in great stretches of land in the north of France.

After Napoleon"s empire fell after Waterloo and cane sugar came in from Martinique, Guadeloupe and Brazil, the price of sugar dropped by a third - so beet sugar didn"t become commercially practical again until the late 1870"s, when new production processes were developed.

When these were demonstrated at the Paris World Fair of 1878, almost every European country hurried to plant sugar beets and build facilities for sugar making.

It eventually made what was Russia (with a climate completely unsuited to cane sugar) the world"s largest sugar producer. See "Achard, François"; "Marggraf, Andreas Sigismund": "Sugar"

If you enjoy cooking take a minute to look at ‘Simon Scrutton French Cookery Classes’ on Google – and learn how to make top class bistro-style dishes. Suitable for beginners upwards. Small classes.

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