Author Topic: Invert Sugar  (Read 1378 times)

Offline tommymorris

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Invert Sugar
« on: March 04, 2021, 05:06:12 PM »
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.

SucroseWaterBoiling Point (C)Boiling Point (F)
30%70%100212
40%60%101214
50%50%102216
60%40%103217
70%30%106223
80%20%112234
90%10%123253
95%5%140284
97%3%151304
98.20%1.80%160320
99.50%0.50%166331
99.60%0.40%171340
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverted_sugar_syrup

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.

Other thoughts:

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.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2021, 03:55:22 AM by tommymorris »

Offline fredthecat

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Re: Invert Sugar
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2021, 05:34:39 PM »
when i first started brewing i made a homemade candi syrup as the idea at the time was that you MUST "invert" it. i thought it made an awesome beer.

but years and years of articles describing the difficulty in re-creating Official Belgian Candy(i?) Syrup, detail that acid alone doesn't create mellanoidins, complicated stuff about balancing pH and in the end you have to use a mix of lye and yeast nutrient in the boil to make anything palatable. furthermore that the inversion process serves no purpose as adding sucrose directly to the boil achieves the same result - splitting of sucrose into glucose and fructose.

don't know why i deluded myself into not bothering to make candi syrup/invert syrup again as you outlined. i thought it made a good product, and frankly have not had great experiences with direct additions of sucrose to boils over the years, which is why i use dextrose only for such purposes.


as you said, yeah the most difficult part is when it cools/hardens. i think i had mine wrapped in tinfoil and it was a pain to scrape out.

Online Megary

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Re: Invert Sugar
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2021, 05:48:09 PM »
I recently tried something very similar to this and had many similar experiences.

https://www.brewersfriend.com/forum/threads/homemade-golden-syrup.14293/

I used most of what I made in the Whitbread IPA.  I used the rest on some biscuits.  Yum.

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Invert Sugar
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2021, 05:56:28 PM »
The sugar I used was Turbinado, which is not refined as much as white table sugar. There are various sugars that are similar, sucanant (sp), demerara, rapadura, and so on.

https://www.thekitchn.com/a-complete-visual-guide-to-sugar-ingredient-intelligence-213715


I'm not sure what grade the British use.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Invert Sugar
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2021, 07:02:36 PM »
This is a timely post, as I've been thinking about this a bit myself recently. I usually use Lyle's or just plain table sugar as substitutes for invert, and molasses for invert #3. I don't delude myself into thinking that the flavor contribution is the same (especially the molasses), but from a fermentability standpoint they're definitely in the same ballpark.

One thing I've been curious to try is invertase. This is what candymakers use to make cherry cordials and creme eggs. You make a fondant, mix in some invertase, then make your filled candy. Over a week or so the fondant turns from a paste to a syrup as the sugars invert. I know that the deeper flavors from invert sugar come from caramelization, but I'm kind of curious to see what a turbinado or jaggery syrup might come out like.

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Offline tommymorris

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Re: Invert Sugar
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2021, 07:12:06 PM »
I recently tried something very similar to this and had many similar experiences.

https://www.brewersfriend.com/forum/threads/homemade-golden-syrup.14293/

I used most of what I made in the Whitbread IPA.  I used the rest on some biscuits.  Yum.
Nice post. Yours came out nice and dark. Mine is much lighter.

Offline tommymorris

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Re: Invert Sugar
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2021, 07:12:57 PM »
The sugar I used was Turbinado, which is not refined as much as white table sugar. There are various sugars that are similar, sucanant (sp), demerara, rapadura, and so on.

https://www.thekitchn.com/a-complete-visual-guide-to-sugar-ingredient-intelligence-213715


I'm not sure what grade the British use.
Thanks. That pictorial is helpful. If my Whitbread IPA comes out well I may try it with different inverts from different sugars.

Online Megary

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Re: Invert Sugar
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2021, 08:04:29 PM »
I recently tried something very similar to this and had many similar experiences.

https://www.brewersfriend.com/forum/threads/homemade-golden-syrup.14293/

I used most of what I made in the Whitbread IPA.  I used the rest on some biscuits.  Yum.
Nice post. Yours came out nice and dark. Mine is much lighter.

I assume the color is just a function of time at 240°??  But the time spent there is probably a function of H2O in the mix...etc.  Mine was in the pot for about an hour. 

I found getting the temperature to ≈240° a bit tricky, but once I got it there, it held nicely.

Offline tommymorris

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Re: Invert Sugar
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2021, 08:22:32 PM »
I recently tried something very similar to this and had many similar experiences.

https://www.brewersfriend.com/forum/threads/homemade-golden-syrup.14293/

I used most of what I made in the Whitbread IPA.  I used the rest on some biscuits.  Yum.
Nice post. Yours came out nice and dark. Mine is much lighter.

I assume the color is just a function of time at 240°??  But the time spent there is probably a function of H2O in the mix...etc.  Mine was in the pot for about an hour. 

I found getting the temperature to ≈240° a bit tricky, but once I got it there, it held nicely.
My temp just kept slowly rising as water evaporated. It shouldn’t sit at 240 if you are still boiling. I do believe darker color comes from boiling longer. It’s melanoidan reactions.  I think this is similar to brewing a Scottish Ale and boiling down to just a wee bit of wort to darken the wort and add flavors.

Offline majorvices

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Re: Invert Sugar
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2021, 08:34:14 PM »
Timely for me as well. I've been planning to make some as well. It's been many years since my last attempt. Maybe 15.

Online Megary

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Re: Invert Sugar
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2021, 08:36:22 PM »
I recently tried something very similar to this and had many similar experiences.

https://www.brewersfriend.com/forum/threads/homemade-golden-syrup.14293/

I used most of what I made in the Whitbread IPA.  I used the rest on some biscuits.  Yum.
Nice post. Yours came out nice and dark. Mine is much lighter.

I assume the color is just a function of time at 240°??  But the time spent there is probably a function of H2O in the mix...etc.  Mine was in the pot for about an hour. 

I found getting the temperature to ≈240° a bit tricky, but once I got it there, it held nicely.
My temp just kept slowly rising as water evaporated. It shouldn’t sit at 240 if you are still boiling. I do believe darker color comes from boiling longer. It’s melanoidan reactions.  I think this is similar to brewing a Scottish Ale and boiling down to just a wee bit of wort to darken the wort and add flavors.

Honestly, that never occurred to me.  I eventually got my temp to ≈240° for 3 readings (spaced about 2 minutes apart each) so I assumed the slight simmer I was using was where I needed to be.  I stopped checking temp around 40 minutes in as I was more concerned with the color changes at that point.  But I suppose the temp was increasing as the water was evaporating.  That's a solid explanation as to why my first attempt was a bit too thick and why I needed to add a bit of water back to the pot and boil for a few more minutes.
If I do this again, I will probably purchase a proper thermometer.

Offline Saccharomyces

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Re: Invert Sugar
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2021, 09:53:00 PM »
Add me to the invert bandwagon!

Offline Kevin

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Re: Invert Sugar
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2021, 10:24:54 PM »
No, no, no on those temperatures. The difference between #1 to #4 is not temperature it is time. They are all made at the same temperature.

Beer historian Ron Pattinson has a recipe in his book, The Homebrewers Guide to Vintage Beer, page 18.

  • Maintain heat between 240F - 250F.
  • For invert #1 heat for 20 - 30 minutes.
  • For #2 heat for 90 - 120 minutes.
  • For #3 heat for 150 - 210 minutes.
  • For #4 heat for 240 - 300 minutes

Use an unrefined, raw sugar to make your invert. Turbinado or Demerara for example. It shouldn't crystalize while making it.
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Offline tommymorris

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Re: Invert Sugar
« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2021, 11:47:20 PM »
No, no, no on those temperatures. The difference between #1 to #4 is not temperature it is time. They are all made at the same temperature.

Beer historian Ron Pattinson has a recipe in his book, The Homebrewers Guide to Vintage Beer, page 18.

  • Maintain heat between 240F - 250F.
  • For invert #1 heat for 20 - 30 minutes.
  • For #2 heat for 90 - 120 minutes.
  • For #3 heat for 150 - 210 minutes.
  • For #4 heat for 240 - 300 minutes

Use an unrefined, raw sugar to make your invert. Turbinado or Demerara for example. It shouldn't crystalize while making it.
Nice contribution. Thanks. That is helpful.

The temperatures I cited were not meant as a road map for making invert #1, 2, and 3. Those are boiling temperatures of sucrose syrup.

For Pattison's recipe, how do you maintain the 240-250F temperature? Continue to add water to counteract evaporation to keep the boiling point in that range? or reduce the heat low enough to hold the solution at 240-250F after reaching that boiling point?  It seems like it would be very difficult to hold at 240-250F without adding small amounts of water.  I am not sure if I could reduce the heat from my stove's burner low enough to effectively stay in the 240-250F range. I haven't tried that though.

In my post the comments about temperature were mostly related to 236F being a commonly recommended point to stop heating to ensure you have a pourable syrup thickness.  I stand by that number. Going higher to induce melanoidan reactions to brown the syrup is good but afterwards I think it is best to come back down to 236F by adding water before packaging.

The table I showed above is from this book:
Potter, Norman N.; Hotchkiss, Joseph H., eds. (1998). Food Science (5th ed.). Aspen Publishers. p. 468, table 20.3. ISBN 083421265X.
Available on Google Books: https://books.google.com/books?id=ERoAm13YF8IC&pg=PA467#v=onepage&q&f=false

The book includes the table and states the following.

"Greater concentrations of sucrose can be dissolved by raising the temperature of the water. The higher the sucrose concentration, the higher the boiling point of such solutions. Candy-makers take advantage of the precise relationship between boiling point and sucrose concentration to control the final degree of water in confections. This is done by heating a sugar syrup to a selected temperature corresponding to the sugar and water concentrations desired (Table 20.3). When boiling syrup reaches temperature, it will have the desired sugar concentration."
*Table 20.3 is the table in my original post with F values added.
**The table is for sucrose solutions. Invert is glucose and fructose. So, the table may not be exactly correct for Invert syrups. I don't know that.

I appreciated knowing the boiling temp tied directly to the sugar and water concentration because that means two things:
(1) I can guarantee water content and therefore syrup viscosity.
(2) I can calculate my syrup's PPG as the sugar concentration  value from the table * 46. For example: 236F is 113C. Interpolating from the table a syrup taken off heat at 236F has sugar concentration of ~81% so its PPG is 0.81*46 = 37 PPG.




« Last Edit: March 04, 2021, 11:49:32 PM by tommymorris »

Offline tommymorris

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Re: Invert Sugar
« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2021, 11:48:39 PM »
Add me to the invert bandwagon!
Add me to the introvert bandwagon :)