I wanted to document my experience making invert sugar.
First, it was very easy. I will never worry about how to source this ingredient again. I will just make it.
Second, I am a novice. I only made basic invert sugar that has a color of about 7-8 SRM. Invert No. 1 is 12–16° L (orange-amber), No. 2. Is 30 to 35° L (amber-bronze), and No. 3 is 60-70° L (reddish black). I didn’t there for Nos. 1-3.
I primarily used an article from AHA as my guide. https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/beer-food/invert-syrups-making-simple-sugars-complex-beers/
The article cited above tells you “a solution of sugar is heated in the presence of an acid until it reaches 236° F (114° C).” The article goes on to discuss continuing to heat past 236F to get darker colors and more flavorful syrups. The article even discusses taking the boil to hark crack which occurs around 310F.
So, my interpretation of the above was that I could heat past 236F for darker colors and as long I didn’t go too far I would still get workable syrup. Wrong.
I heated to 260F, cooled my syrup, and poured it into a jar. That seemed okay when the syrup was still relatively hot. But, the next day once the syrup had cooled completely it was a very thick sludge. When I turned the jar on its side the syrup didn’t move. I was able to use a spoon and significant muscle to get a spoonful out of the jar.
With invert syrup you can add water and reheat. I also noticed a table on the Invert Sugar Syrup Wikipedia page that listed boil temperature and the water content in the syrup. See below.
|Sucrose||Water||Boiling Point (C)||Boiling Point (F)|
It turns out that the boiling temperature of your syrup directly correlates with the concentration of sucrose and water. As the water evaporates the boil temperature increases and you can use the boil temperature measurement to learn the water concentration. I infer from so many instructions for making invert on websites that 236F is the right concentration for syrup. As in 236F makes a pourable syrup and cooking to 236F most likely aligns with the sugar:water concentrations for recipes found on the web.
So, to fix my invert sludge I boiled 2 cups of water and added it in 1/4 to 1/2 cup increments to my jar of sludge. This melted the sludge enough to allow me to pour it back into my pot a bit at a time. Once back in the pot and boiling again the 2 cups of water had brought the boil temp down closer to 212F. I can’t remember the exact temperature. This time I boiled slowly until the temp hit 236F. At 236F I removed the heat and cooled to about 175F before pouring into my mason jar. A day later the syrup has cooled to room temperature and it has a nice pourable consistency.
1. In the future I may cook past 236F to continue to darken the sugar and then when I like the color add boiling water to drop the boil temp back to 236F. I think you could boil several hours by regularly adding water as it evaporates to continue to darken the syrup before finally dropping back to 236F to package.
Edit: see Ron Pattinson’s recipe at the bottom of this post. Most definitely you need to cook past 236F to darken.
2. My syrup is fairly light even after effectively boiling it twice. How else could we get darker syrup? Using different starting sugars is recommended: raw sugar, molasses, brown sugar, etc. I used granulated sugar (aka. table sugar). Apparently each will give different flavors. I am not sure if commercial invert sugars start with different source sugars. It seems logical that they would. I would love to have some recommendations based on people’s experience.
Edit: general guidance is raw unrefined sugar is better. It’s more flavorful and darkens easier.
3. Crystallization. When you first bring the solution to boil you can get crystallization from the sucrose. Invert breaks sucrose into glucose and fructose which don’t crystallize so easily. I didn’t have many problems here. I used an enamel coated pot and used a rubber spoon to push crystals on the side of the pot back into the solution.
Edit: adding the acid right when you start heating reduce the likelihood of crystallization.
4. Clean up. I boiled 2-3 cups of water and poured that into my pot and soaked my spoon and thermometer tip. That melted any sugar left in the pot and on my gear into the water. I just poured that water down the drain and then cleaned everything with soap. Super easy.
5. Cooling the syrup. I filled the kitchen sink with about 2 inches of cold water. I put the pot in the water bath for a few minutes. That brought the temp to 175F. I then poured the syrup into my mason jar.
Edit: Alternatively, you can just leave the syrup in the pot you cooked it in for a few hours to cool before pouring into your jar.
6. Pouring syrup. Use a funnel. You don’t want syrup anywhere except in the jar.
7. Acid choice. I used lactic acid. I only needed 3ml and most brewers have Lactic for mash PH adjustment. A quarter whole lemon or lemon juice also seem like good choices you may have on hand.
Fig. Two pounds of my invert sugar syrup.
Edit: I am adding instructions from Ron Pattinson for making various grades of invert.
Ron Pattinson Recipe
• For each pound (455 g) of sugar you use, bring 1 pint (473 ml) of water to the boil.
• Switch off the heat and add the sugar slowly, dissolving it.
• Add 1/4 teaspoon (1 g) of citric acid per pound of sugar.
• Turn on the heat again (not too high) and set the alarm on the candy thermometer to 230ºF (110ºC).
• Stir frequently while it starts to simmer.
• When the temperature hits 230ºF (110, reset the alarm for 240ºF (115.6ºC).
• Heat slowly (the slower the better) until the temperature gets to 240ºF (115.6ºC).
• Lower the heat to keep at 240ºF–250ºF (115.6ºC –121.1ºC).
• For No. 1 maintain at heat for 20–30 minutes.
• For No. 2 maintain at heat for 90–120 minutes.
• For No. 3 maintain at heat for 150–210 minutes.
• For No. 4 maintain at heat for 240–300 minutes.
The colors you’re aiming for are:
• No. 1, 12-16 SRM
• No. 2, 30-35 SRM
• No. 3, 60-70 SRM
• No. 4, 275-325 SRM
Tommy Morris >>> I darkened my syrup following Ron Pattinson’s recipe guidance for invert #1 above. The result was great color but thick syrup. I added water and boiled until the temp climbed back to 238F then removed from the heat to make sure the syrup is pourable when I use it.