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6.1.2: Syrups

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    Agave has gained popularity in the food industry due to some of its nutritional properties. The agave nectar is obtained from the sap of the heart of the agave plant, a desert succulent, which is also used to produce tequila. The syrup/sugar production process of agave is similar to that of sugar. The link bellow gives further explanation on agave.

    Glucose/Dextrose/Corn Syrup/High-Fructose Corn Syrup

    The sugar known as glucose has two origins:

    • In a natural form in most fruits
    • In a processed form from corn (corn syrup)

    In baking, we usually refer to industrially made glucose. It is made from corn and the resulting product, a thick syrup, is then adjusted to a uniform viscosity or consistency. The particular form of the syrup is defined by what is known as the dextrose equivalent, or DE for short. Corn syrup is the most familiar form of glucose.

    In plant baking, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is the major sweetening agent in bread and buns. It consists of roughly half fructose and half dextrose. Dextrose (chemically identical to glucose) is available in crystalline form and has certain advantages over sucrose:

    • It is easily fermentable.
    • It contributes to browning in bread and bun making.
    • In crystalline form, it is often used in doughnut sugars as it is more inclined to stay dry and non-greasy.
    • It is hygroscopic and valued as a moisture-retaining ingredient.
    • It retards crystallization in syrups, candies, and fondant.

    Corn syrup is made from the starch of maize (corn) and contains varying amounts of glucose and maltose, depending on the processing methods. Corn syrup is used in foods to soften texture, add volume, prevent crystallization of sugar, and enhance flavor.

    Table 1 shows the amount of corn syrup or HFCS needed to replace sugar in a formula.

    Table 1 Replacement Factor for Corn Syrup and High-Fructose Corn Syrup
    Type of Sugar Solids Replacement Factor
    Granulated sugar 100% 1.0
    Regular corn syrup 80% 1.25
    High-fructose corn syrup 71% 1.41

    Glucose, HFCS, and corn syrup are not appropriate substitutions for sucrose in all bakery products. Certain types of cakes, such as white layer cakes, will brown too much if glucose or HFCS is used in place of sugar. The link bellow provides more insight on HFCS:


    Honey is a natural food, essentially an invert sugar. Bees gather nectar and, through the enzyme invertase, change it into honey. Honey varies in composition and flavor depending on the source of the nectar. The average composition of honey is about 40% levulose, 35% dextrose, and 15% water, with the remainder being ash, waxes, and gum.

    Blended honey is a mixture of pure honey and manufactured invert sugar, or a blend of different types of honey mixed together to produce a good consistency, color, and aroma. Dehydrated honey is available in a granular form.

    Store honey in a tightly covered container in a dry place and at room temperature because it is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs and retains moisture. Refrigeration or freezing won’t harm the color or flavor but it may hasten granulation. Liquid honey crystallizes during storage and is re-liquefied by warming in a double boiler not exceeding a temperature of 58°C (136°F).

    Honey is used in baking:

    • As a sweetener
    • To add unique flavor
    • In gingerbread and special cookies where a certain moistness is characteristic of the product
    • To improve keeping qualities

    There are several types of honey available:

    • Comb honey is “packed by the bees” directly from the hive.
    • Liquid honey is extracted from the comb and strained. It is the type used by most bakers.
    • Creamed honey has a certain amount of crystallized honey added to liquid honey to give body to the final product.
    • Chunk honey consists of pieces of comb honey as well as liquid.
    • Granulated honey has been crystallized.

    In the United States, honey categories are based on color, from white to dark amber. Honey from orange blossom is an example of white honey. Clover honey is an amber honey, and sage and buckwheat honeys are dark amber honeys.


    Malt is the name given to a sweetening agent made primarily from barley. The enzymes from the germ of the seeds become active, changing much of the starch into maltose, a complex sugar. Maltose has a distinct flavor and is used for making yeast products such as bread and rolls. Malt is considered to be relatively nutritious compared to other sweeteners.

    Malt is available as:

    • Flour
    • Malt syrup
    • Malt extract
    • Dried malt

    The flour is not recommended since it can lead to problems if not scaled precisely. Malt syrup is inconvenient to work with, as it is sticky, heavy, and bulky. Dried malt is the most practical, though it must be kept protected from humidity.

    Crushing malted grain in water produces malt syrup. This dissolves the maltose and soluble enzymes. The liquid is concentrated, producing the syrup. If the process is continued, a dry crystallized product called dried malt syrup is obtained.

    Malt syrup has a peculiar flavor, which many people find desirable. It is used in candy, malted milk, and many other products. The alcoholic beverage industry is the largest consumer of malt by far, but considerable quantities are used in syrup and dried malt syrup, both of which are divided into diastatic and non-diastatic malt.

    Malt sugar, which is fermented by the yeast in the later stages of fermentation is valuable in baking. Other sugars such as glucose and levulose are used up rapidly by fermenting yeast in the early stages of fermentation.

    The main uses of malt in the bakery are to:

    • Add nutritive value, as it is rich in vitamins and essential amino acids
    • Lengthen shelf life through its ability to attract moisture
    • Help fermentation by strengthening the gluten and feeding the yeast
    • Make products more appealing through browning of the crust
    • Add unique flavor to products when used in sufficient quantity

    Table 5 shows the suggested use levels for malt.

    Maple Syrup

    Canada is responsible for 84% of the world’s maple syrup production, with the United States being responsible for the remaining 16%. Maple syrup is made by boiling and evaporating the sap of the sugar maple tree. Because sap is only 2% or 3% sugar, it takes almost 40 liters of sap to make 1 liter of syrup. This makes maple syrup a very expensive sweetener. It is prized for its unique flavor and sweet aroma. Don’t confuse maple-flavored pancake or table syrup with real maple syrup. Table syrup is made from inexpensive glucose or corn syrup, with added caramel coloring and maple flavoring.

    Darker maple syrups are better for baking as they have a more robust flavor. Using maple sugar is also a good way to impart flavor. Maple sugar is what remains after the sap of the sugar maple is boiled for longer than is needed to create maple syrup. Once almost all the water has been boiled off, all that is left is solid sugar. It can be used to flavor some maple products and as an alternative to cane sugar.

    For a video on maple syrup production, see The Faces of Business: Mapleside Sugar Bush.


    This page titled 6.1.2: Syrups is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by BC Cook Articulation Committee (BC Campus) .

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