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Oct 28, 2008 08:00 AM

corn syrup substitutions question

ok, so I know that the reason for adding corn syrup to caramel corn and the caramel sauce in the bottom of my french toast recipe has something to do with the molecular difference to sugar. generally I add honey instead and it turns out fine. but now it's pecan pie season and I don't really want to order Golden Syrup, but I will if I have to. Could I make my own simple syrup to use for that application? I guess I could go the pricy route and use maple. What about if I want to make marshmallows? Is there another substitute? Or is there a brand that's corn syrup only without the high fructose part? I know that Karo has both.

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  1. Corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup are not the same thing - not that the former is exactly health food, either. If your only worry is HFCS, you can use ordinary corn syrup. Otherwise, there's mizuame, barley malt syrup,or, as you mentioned, golden syrup or maple syrup.

    1. Sugar is sucrose, a molecule that loosely binds glucose and fructose simple sugars. Plain corn syrup is mostly glucose. In HFCS some of the glucose has been converted to fructose, producing a solution that tastes similar to a sucrose. Golden Syrup is a mix of sucrose syrup and invert sugar. Invert sugar is produced by splitting the sucrose molecules. So Golden Syrup is a mix of sucrose, glucose and fructose.

      The problem with a simple sugar syrup is that it tends to crystallize after cooling. The addition of glucose reduces this tendency.

      It is possible to make your own invert sugar by cooking a simple sugar syrup with a bit of acid. I have done this using cream of tartar. Eventually it did crystallize, but for a couple of days, the home made version was fine. I have not tried in a pie.

      2 Replies
      1. re: paulj

        Thank you. I'll try it. Pie doesn't last more than 24 hours in my house anyway.

        1. re: silvergirl

          I don't recall how much cream of tartar I used, something like a 1/4tsp for a couple of cups of syrup. Here's what the wiki article on inverted sugar says:
          "Inverted sugar syrup can be easily made by adding roughly one gram of citric acid or ascorbic acid, per kilogram of sugar. Cream of tartar (one gram per kilogram) or fresh lemon juice (10 milliliters per kilogram) may also be used (1 tsp lemon juice per 1 pound sugar).

          The mixture is boiled for 20 minutes, and will convert enough of the sucrose to effectively prevent crystallization, without giving a noticeably sour taste. Invert sugar syrup may also be produced without the use of acids or enzymes by thermal means alone: two parts granulated sucrose and one part water simmered for five to seven minutes will convert a modest portion to invert sugar."