Glucose Syrup

“Glucose syrup” is what some in the English-speaking world call corn syrup. Indeed this incredibly thick and sticky stuff is corn syrup, just a rather special kind. In what way? It’s exceedingly low in moisture, which makes it handy for all sorts of confectionery work where you want to keep the finished product flexible without adding extra water to it. It also has a much cleaner taste than grocery store corn syrup because it has fewer of the thickening long-chain starch molecules in it.

Rarely does a baker use glucose syrup, save in caramels and fondants. The fascinating thing about it is that despite being nearly 100% glucose it doesn’t taste very sweet compared to conventional syrups, even though it’s made of the simplest of sugars and the general rule is that the simpler the sugar, the sweeter it tastes to humans. It does of course have every bit as many calories. Even more really, since most syrups are about 20% water. Just one of the quirks of the way our taste buds work. Curious indeed.

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12 Responses to Glucose Syrup

  1. Kelly says:

    This stuff is the bane of my existence…well, almost. In Europe it is generally made from wheat, and unsafe for celiacs, of which I am one. It is in *everything*. Sausages, candy, canned fruits, sorbet, you name it. Lots of things one would image are gluten-free, aren’t. Any thoughts on what it does for sausages? I mean, sorbet and candy I get…but meat products? Weird.

    • joepastry says:

      Hi Kelly!

      So sorry to hear that. I had no idea that this syrup was made from wheat in Europe. Fascinating.

      Regarding syrup in sausage, it does several things, some of which are aesthetic, some of which are functional. On the aesthetic side, thick syrups obviously make the meat sweeter as well as serve as a medium for colorings. On the functional side they act as a binder, helping to hold the meat together. Even more importantly however they feed the lactic acid bacteria during the fermentation process (most sausages are fermented). Sort of like adding sugar or syrup to a bread dough, it helps microbes grow. Also, once the fermentation is complete, added sugar can extend the shelf life of a sausage by actually killing bacteria. So in that sense it’s a preservative.

      There are certainly more reasons, but those are the ones that I know off the top of my head. Thanks for the great question and the very interesting comment! Cheers,

      - Joe

  2. iztok says:

    can glucose syrup be substituted or maybe even created in a home kitchen?

    • joepastry says:

      Hello Iztok!

      It depends on the application of course. If your recipe only calls for a small amount of it, you can use corn syrup or refiner’s syrup as a substitute. As far as making it at home, it’s close to impossible since the process requires some very specific enzymes. May I ask what you’re making?Perhaps I can recommend a substitute for you. Cheers,

      - Joe

  3. Linda says:

    Hi Joe,
    Glucose syrup is so blasted sticky! Any tips on measuring and adding it to a recipe without using 2 spoons, 5 fingers, and a spatula:)
    Thanks,
    Linda

    • LynnT says:

      Try rubbing a bit of cooking oil on both the inside and outside of the measuring spoon/cup, and on your fingers if you tend to get them into what you are mixing. My grandmother taught me to do that when measuring honey.

      Lynn

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Linda! I see someone answered the question for me since I was too slow this week. Thanks for the great question. Glucose is one of the hardest ingredients I’ve ever had to manage…all those long gooey strings…I guess that’s why I tend to avoid it wherever I can!

      Thanks for the question!

      - Joe

  4. Katie says:

    Just wanted to chime for anyone interested – at the restaurant where I work as a pastry cook we use glucose syrup for ice cream and sorbet along with regular sugar, helps to keep the product from getting to hard in the freezer. We use inverted sugar for marshmallows. I imagine home cooks would use corn syrup for both applications, though the amounts may have to be adjusted a bit.

    • joepastry says:

      Excellent, Katie. Indeed lots of people are interested. Thanks for sharing your expertise!

      - Joe

  5. hitam says:

    I’m looking at the recipe for nougat which asks for glucose syrup or corn syrup. What can be replaced for these sticky syrup?

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