In the field of confectionery and dessert making, identifying the sweetener source is crucial. While all sweetener’s primary purpose is to “sweeten” the product, they still have different effects on the overall health. Sugars are available all around. As a form of carbohydrate, this compound can be found naturally or produced through chemical reactions.
Naturally-made sweeteners are found in various foods, including dairy, fruit juices, vegetables, nuts, and root crops. These can be chemically produced in galactose, glucose, fructose, sucrose, maltose, and lactose. In the case of glucose and corn syrup, both are considered naturally-made sweeteners.
Glucose syrup is a mixture of different sweeteners such as sugar cane, corn, and other plants. Meanwhile, corn syrup is entirely extracted from corn’s glucose content. Sugars extracted naturally are healthy, and they don’t contribute to the production of excess sugars, resulting in increased blood sugar and weight gain.
Is Corn Syrup the Same as Glucose?
Liquid Glucose (or glucose syrup) is a thick liquid compound that controls the formation of sugar crystals, essential in making confectionery and desserts. This is important to maintain specific recipes like icing, jam, spreads, and even bread. Like corn syrup, glucose syrup is also a naturally derived sweetener.
What is corn syrup?
Like any other root crop, corn has its naturally occurring glucose. Once collected, it is marketed as corn syrup, a natural sweetener. While corn syrup is considered a natural sweetener, it doesn’t equate to a naturally occurring sugar. To transform corn into syrup, piles of corn starch are broken down into glucose molecules—before the by-product of corn syrup is produced.
The collected sugars in corn starch are called glucose, which means that some sold as glucose syrup products maybe actually just corn syrup itself. However, this doesn’t mean that all glucose is corn syrups—since it can be collected on other plant starches.
While corn syrup is available in the market, it should not be mistaken as high-fructose corn syrup. This product is chemically produced by adding 45 to 55 percent of fructose into corn syrup. In short, high-fructose corn syrup is not included in the glucose syrup group (such as pure corn syrup).
What is glucose syrup?
While corn syrup contains glucose, this can be produced from a wide range of vegetables and fruits. For instance, common fruits like apricots, cranberries, grapes, jackfruits, and plantains contain high amounts of glucose. Glucose is the by-product of food starches, which provides an energy boost.
While there are various sources of glucose, the commonly marketed variants are those made with corn, wheat, or a combination of both. The best way to know the glucose source of your product is to check the ingredient list. Or, use corn syrup since it can also be considered a form of glucose syrup.
What Is Glucose Syrup Used for in Baking?
Glucose syrup is a substance used as a form of thickener, sweetener, and moisture-retaining agent. Since it doesn’t crystallize like compound sugar, it is used for fondant, candy, cake icing, and other baked goods. This simple sugar is collected through hydrolysis, which breaks down glucose molecules in foods. The process creates a transparent, sweet product marketed as glucose syrup.
Aside from glucose syrup, here are the other variants of this natural sweetener:
- Dried glucose syrup. When the water content from glucose is removed, it creates a bulk of dried glucose. This is later powdered and marketed as “dried corn syrup” or “corn syrup solids.”
- Dextrose monohydrate. This glucose variant contains 99.5% of D-glucose with a single molecule of water. This is commercially known as “corn sugar” or “corn sugar monohydrate.”
- Dextrose anhydrous. This glucose variant doesn’t contain water, and it is derived from the corn drain. It is commercially known as “corn sugar anhydrous.”
- Powdered dextrose or icing sugar. Corn sugar anhydrous is finely pulverized and commonly added with an anti-caking agent. This variant is widely used to coat doughnuts or create icing glaze.
Listed below are some of the functions of this natural sweetener:
- Improves dough viscosity
- Promote yeast fermentation faster than table sugar
- Affect the texture of bread by reducing coarseness
- Reduces the browning of sugar through Maillard reaction
- Controls the crystallization of icings and glazes
- Depress freezing points of baked products
- Provides a source of energy, supplying four calories per gram
- Healthier sweetener compared to maltose
Can I Substitute Corn Syrup for Glucose?
Corn syrups and glucose syrups are considered invert sugars—and can be described through their sweetness, texture, and crystallization.
- Regular sugars are made with fructose and glucose molecules linked together and would like to reconnect. That is why stray grains of sugar can create a cascade effect of relinking sugar molecules—which causes sugar crystallization.
- Invert sugars, on the other hand, have fructose or glucose molecules that are not linked together. When invert sugars are introduced in a mixture, it discourages crystallization—a lesser chance of crystallization results in smoother caramel and velvety texture in sorbets and ice creams.
Since corn syrup is considered a form of glucose, you can fully substitute it for your recipe. Corn syrup has a sweeter taste than glucose syrup—since wheat, and wheat-corn variants have a minimal sweet aftertaste than pure corn. Adding corn syrup to your candy and baking needs will reduce the crystallization process effectively. This will give you a smoother, glossier finish for added aesthetic to your dish.
Suppose you are replacing corn syrup with glucose. In that case, you may reduce the sweetness level of other ingredients by reducing the sugar content or adding complementary ingredients like citrus fruits, dark chocolates, coffee, and peppermint. Aside from corn syrup, here are some alternatives for glucose syrup.
- Boiled sugar – Mix a cup of sugar and add enough water to cover it. Boil the sugars until it reaches a thick, syrupy consistency. It can be used for a boiled icing recipe.
- Honey – A healthier substitute to corn syrup since it is naturally harvested from honey beehives. It may have a milder sweetness profile, but it is packed with nutrients.
- Maple syrup – Made by boiling sugar with maple bark until it produces a dark, brown syrup. Works well with sweet and savory dishes such as chicken and waffles.
- Brown rice syrup
- Agave Nectar