Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Homemade Belgian Candi Sugar

The recipe I created for my Saison included 1 and 1/3 pounds of light Belgian candi sugar to add fermentables = more alcohol but not add the body (aka dry out the beer). I didn’t want to pay $5 for a pound at my LHBS so I did a little research. I’ve read about people using table sugar and it doing the same thing. Yes the yeast will eat it and I’m not opposed to table sugar (I used it to prime my porter and it turned out perfect). The only problem is that table sugar is sucrose.  Yeast need to first split the sugar into fructose and glucose, this in essence adds an extra strain to the yeast and could produce off flavors. Belgian candi sugar is inverted sugar, which means the sugar has already been split and the yeast can start munching away.  Instead of buying the candi sugar at $5/lb you can make your own, which is more fun anyway. Update: This is to make light candi sugar. The process is more involved for making dark candi sugar and involves more ingredients.For more information on that subject check out Ryan Brews.

All you need to make candi sugar is:

Ingredients/ materials
  1. Plane table sugar
  2. citric acid (I just used lemon juice)
  3. water
  4. A sauce pan
  5. wax paper
  6. a baking sheet
  7. High temperature thermometer (as a homebrewer you should already have one)

(the thermometer in the picture was what I was planning on using until I noticed it only measured up to 212F, I had to switch to my insertion thermometer that measures up to 500F)


The procedure is pretty simple and quick unless you want dark sugar. First step is to add the amount of sugar you need (in my case it was 1 and a third pounds) into the sauce pot and cover with water. Mix the water sugar solution until it become syrupy. Only use enough water to make this solution, it wont hurt anything if you use more it just takes longer to boil off the excess water.

(Above: Sugar-water mixture)

Add a touch of citric acid (1 Tbs lemon juice per pound of sugar), this is what inverts the sugar from sucrose to fructose and glucose. Start to bring the mixture up to a boil and keep an eye on the temperature.  Once the water has evaporated the temperature will start to climb above 212F (or 100C for our non American readers). When the solution has reached 260-275F keep it in that range for at least 10-15 minutes to convert the sugar. This is between the hard boil and soft crack in candy making terms. If the temperature begins to approach 275F start to slowly add in water, this will lower the temp and keep with in the desired range.

(Above: The sugar-water-citric acid mixture starting to boil)

(Above: after the water has boiled out the and sugar is in the desired range)

I needed light candi sugar so I only held it in the 260-275F for about 10 minutes, but if you want to make dark or amber sugar you need to keep adding water and hold it in that range for longer. The longer you hold it there the darker it will become as the sugar caramelizes. Once you hit your desired color stop adding water and raise the temperature up to 300F (hard crack) and pour it onto the wax paper you have already placed in a baking sheet.

(Above: freshly poured candi sugar)

Allow for the candi sugar to cool, which will cause it to solidify.

After it has formed a solid structure remove it from the wax paper and break it up into pieces.

And voila! There you have it, homemade Belgian candi sugar. Cheaper and more fun then buying it at your LHBS.  If you want to save it for a later brew date just throw it into a ziplock bag and toss it in the freezer it should keep for a few months at least.

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