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Jan 13, 2011 04:27 PM

Where to buy Invert Sugar + Glucose Syrup in Mountain View?

I'm trying out confectionaries in Greweling's book "Chocolate and Confections." Where can I buy Invert Sugar and Glucose Syrup, at least one of which is called for in nearly every recipe? Other things like pectin would be helpful, too.


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  1. You can make your own invert syrup:

    Pectin can be found in most supermarkets, with the canning supplies near the baking supplies. Depending on how much glucose you need, you might check a pharmacy, as pure glucose is used by diabetics as an emergency remedy for low blood sugar.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      You might check Michaels for glucose. Otherwise there is a cake decorating store called Cake Works in Campbell that will have it. Finally, you can just sub in corn syrup also.

      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        The kind of pectin you need to make firm jelly candies is not available in supermarkets. The pectin sold in nearly every supermarket for jams and jellies comes from citrus peels, and does not set firm enough for jelly candy. To succeed in candy, you'll need powdered apple pectin. There was a thread here within the last month or two about where to get it. I have always just ordered it online.

        I also have ordered glucose syrup. It comes in 1-kg tubs. Karo syrup will work in its place, although Karo syrup is seasoned.

      2. I don't know that particular book, but "glucose syrup" is utterly standard British English for what the US always calls "corn syrup," available in any supermarket. ("Corn," as you may know, has a special meaning in North America; elsewhere in English the word traditionally denoted grain of any kind, as in "seed corn.")

        In a truly obnoxious marketing move, a few years ago Karo added vanilla to what had always been plain corn syrup before. You can decide if that interferes with your particular recipe. Amazingly, and in Mountain View no less, I've seen offered as an alternative by the same firm NOT classic unflavored corn syrup, but some latter-day "lite" version that I believe is corn syrup diluted with water and then thickened back up with vegetable gum or something. O tempora ...

        Pure dry glucose, often sold here under the alternative name dextrose, is found in bulk, or sometimes in packages, at markets with good bulk-food selections and in health-food stores.

        "Invert syrup" is just table sugar (sucrose) partly broken down by enzymes or acid into the lighter sugars glucose and fructose (the constituents also of corn syrup or UK's "glucose syrup" which normally is not in fact pure glucose).

        The purpose of all of these in candy making (alternatively, the addition of acid ingredients like cream of tartar, which achieves the same sugar breakdown during the cooking process) is to introduce the lighter sugars, especially glucose, preventing the large-grained crystals occurring when cooked syrups harden, if they contain only sucrose. You see this dramatically in the finished result if you make fondant confections or fudges.

        These sugar questions recur so often we really need an FAQ section. It would also be helpful if authors in British English included the explanations, for the benefit of international readers; likewise for US authors who use the customary US terms.

        4 Replies
        1. re: eatzalot

          Not entirely correct on the invert sugar. The purpose for using invert sugar in candy making is to change the water activity (listed in references as an a.w. number between zero and one). The addition of the invert sugar makes less water bioavailable for the growth of unwanted materials such as bacteria and fungus.

          Invert sugar will look funny when you buy it. It will be part solid and part liquid. This is how it should be. Just give it a stir. Known in the candy making business as trimoline or staboline (same stuff, different brand names).

          Stick with glucose syrup. Do NOT use corn syrup for candy making unless specifically called for. You can get all of the stuff you need at a cake making supply store in small quantities. Wholesalers are the better source, but the stuff generally comes in 15 lb buckets.

          By the way, Greweling's book is probably the best chocolate making book ever printed.

          1. re: LarryW

            Thanks LarryW for the correction. If that's well supported, then for more impact please also correct my source, Harold McGee (isn't he in Palo Alto?) who summarizes "invert sugar" or "invert syrup" as, first, typically 25% sucrose, 75% glucose-fructose mix [that 75% component is also known in the US as corn sryup, available industrially with various percentages of those two ingredients; McGee so far says effectively that invert sugar is equivalent to a mix of sucrose and corn syrup -- e.]. More to the point of your comment, the only use in confectionery that McGee cites (2nd ed., 2004, p. 655 hardcover) is to limit sucrose crystallization, part of what I paraphrased above.

            I use McGee as a quick reference on sugar properties, because he summarizes a lot of topics. Though I'll admit I have my own issues with McGee elsewhere, where he gets into interpreting areas that he himself gives the impression of knowing only from ref. books and not in much depth, so real corrections may be needed here.

            Also please be extremely careful when advising people about the specific phrase "glucose syrup" because it's used so standardly in British recipes, which I've been reading for 30-plus years, to mean what in US is always called "corn syrup" (give or take the usual range of glucose-fructose percentages). Internationally marketed British writing will sometimes call for "glucose syrup [USA: corn syrup]." Not a recipe, but typical and authoritative, is Davidson (Oxford Companion to Food, 1999): "Corn syrup ... made from maize starch, is also known as 'liquid glucose' or 'glucose syrup.' (This is not quite correct, since it does not consist entirely of glucose) ..."

            Given the conspicuous longtime international ambiguity of the phrase "glucose syrup" I would hope that a US author like Grewling, if addressing home cooks at all, would explain this point well, and remove any possible ambiguity. Maybe he does, elsewhere in the book.

            1. re: eatzalot

              "Glucose syrup" as used by a confectioner and glucose syrup as a home recipe ingredient are not necessarily the same thing. Glucose syrups (as opposed to glucose powder, also called dextrose) for confectioners are a class of materials with a range of dextrose equivalents (DE) that defines a number of properties from viscosity to relative sweetness. Glucose syrups for home use is Karo, which is not even pure glucose. It also contains vanilla and salt, which makes it unsuitable for recipes that don't need the extras.

              I'm hoping you didn't misunderstand my earlier post. Invert sugar and glucose syrup are not the same thing. Glucose is used to inhibit crystallization (amongst other things), and invert sugar is generally used to extend shelf life by changing water activity. Both are frequently used in the same recipe. As a professional confectioner, I've been designing recipes around these properties for years.

              As much as Greweling's book seems to have popular appeal, it is really aimed at professionals. As far as the confectionery business goes, it's spot on in it's language, and one of the best reference books in the field (honestly, I think it's the book that all of us confectioners secretly dream we could have all written ourselves, if not addled by the lack of his talent or discipline). You can't tell professional chocolatiers, confectioners and patissiers how to do things in the language used by home cooks. It would be like explaining physics without using math.

              1. re: LarryW

                ... And I'm hoping I didn't phrase confusingly, because I understood your comments precisely, and never meant to imply invert sugar and glucose syrup are the same.

                The real problem here is language contradictions among creditable sources, including a professional like yourself. I approach this as a home cook who also follows the food science of it. I know from home confectionery experience and countless recipes and explanations that glucose inhibits the crystallization problem (anyone who tries making classic fudge with only sucrose finds that out; I did circa 1963) and that in some home confectionary recipes, the same benefit results from partly breaking the sucrose to glucose in cooking, via small quantities of agents such as acids.

                The various _fundamental_ sugars aren't mysterious, their chemistry has long been well explicated (the simplest, glucose/dextrose and fructose, occur widely in nature; sucrose and maltose are larger molecules built of the two basic ones). In various proportions, along with water, these make up essentially everything discussed in this thread, and more. I cited invert sugar's composition since as an improviser (did you know, for just one instance, that Sterno (tm) can be made at home using eggshells and vinegar? I figured that from fundamentals and did it) I'd be tempted to fake up invert sugar if I didn't have any, but knew its constituents, as cited. Karo, incidentally, added its needless ingredients only recently in its product lifetime; I've used many bottles through the 1990s (and old ones are still found in kitchen pantries) that were pure corn syrup, without vanilla or salt.

                One contradiction here is McGee ("On Food and Cooking," today's de-facto standard first-recourse US food reference book) stating that invert sugar is used, like glucose, to inhibit crystallization, which certainly is one of its capabilities due to its glucose content. Your argument there is with McGee, NOT me, and may not even be a conflict, as McGee might have had in mind other applications than you do. We cannot sort that out here which is why I suggested, seriously, you contact McGee, who is local. Another problem, as I explained already, is that even without US professional usage worsening this ambiguity, "glucose syrup" means "corn syrup" to home cooks in much (most?) of the English-speaking world. This imposes on Greweling an obligation to spell out clearly how he (not you or I) uses such a term, to avoid confusion among the home audience (targeted very obviously in mass marketing such as

        2. Pectin in confectionery is funny stuff to work with. There are a bunch of different types that give different results. You have to know whether you want a reversible or non-reversible, slow set or fast set, blah blah blah. Most everything sold in a grocery store is pure crap.

          For candy, especially pate de fruit, you want a product called yellow pectin, also known as pectine jaune (slow-setting, non-reversible). The one put out by Patisfrance is the best. A true pain in the ass to get your hands on, it's worth it in terms of final product quality. Smooth, no grain, no detriment to flavor profiles, a pleasure to work with. Different pectins will be used for things such as jams, which use what is called green "apple" pectin. Green pectin is a fast set, reversible type. Most everything is available somewhere online now, even the professional products.

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