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home made candy sugar

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technobabble66

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Ok. Another day, another batch of sweet syrupy goodness.
The last batch definitely smells of DAP - so maybe you *can* add too much DAP after all, in spite of what i think one or 2 advise about it not mattering if you add a little too much or too little.
------------------------------

So the batch i did today (Batch #3) was similar to #2, but with less DAP, more restrained use of just enough Lye to hit pH9, a lower target temperature (~125°C), and all white sugar.
I went with all white sugar to simplify the flavour elements/variables, but also because in making certain desserts, i've found that using darker sugars adds a strong rum & molasses flavour which can actually detract from a classic caramel flavour (and i'd guess some if not most of the fruit flavours as being derived from this "line" of flavour, rather than the molasses flavour). Time will eventually prove this to be right or wrong, but it'll simplify things for the time being.

Batch #3
500g White sugar
1 cup water
1/2 tsp citric acid
heat to incipient boil.
Boil for 30mins (and tried to keep it ~114-5°C once this was hit ~23min mark, by taking it off & onto the heat).
Allowed to cool below 100°C

2 tsp Lye hit pH9.1 (1 3/4 hit pH8.8 - decided this was a little low).
Heated to 115°C
Added 3/4 tsp DAP.
Heated to 125°C (took ~10-15mins)
Added 1 tbsp water, dropped temp to ~120-122°C.
Heated back up to 125°C. (takes ~3-5mins)
Repeated this 6 times.
Added the 7th time then switched heat off immediately to ensure liquidity in syrup.

Much better result!! Strong caramel and mild toffee flavour, slight citrusy element(?). No sign of DAP/ammonia. No significant "burnt sugar" element.
Finished with ~500g syrup.

Notes:
As soon as the Lye water was added, the syrup went several shades darker. From a very pale straw yellow (after the inversion step) to a deep yellow/amber after i'd stirred in the 2 tbsp of Lye water. This probably affected the colour development significantly from here on.
The colours at the different temperature stages were much darker than others: say, Snickasaurus's post. e.g.: my 120-125°C stages looked like his 280-290°F (~137-143°C) stages. Note, Snickasaurus doesn't use an alkalising agent in his process.
Subsequently, i decided to cap my temp at ~125°C. This seemed to be quite dark red, going on dark brown; and i had doubts the darker colours would achieve the flavours i wanted (deep caramel, plum, raisin, etc).
Very happy with initially how this seemed to turn out. Could be perfect for the Belgian Strong Red Ale - caramel & dried fruit.

Not sure if i'm missing some fantastic flavour development by not going to 135-140°C, but i'm inclined to go with what one or 2 people mentioned: that at the higher temps you need to go by "feel" a bit more as the precision can vary too much between individuals' efforts. This "felt" like it was targeting what i wanted. I'l maybe try a higher temp version later.

Happy to advised otherwise, if anyone else has some input!!
 

AJS2154

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Hi techno,

A couple of things:

1) I have 2 wonderful beer making books, these being "Brewing Classic Styles" by Zainasheff and "Modern Homebrew Recipes" by Gordon Strong. Both books have recipes for Flanders Red Ale (which is a sour and fermented with lactobacillis rather than saccharomyces....forgive me if you know that!). I would be happy to share the recipes if you do not have them.

2) The real point of my post. I read in your posts that you have used lye water in candi syrup production. I also understand that some commercial operations use lye water (NaOH) in their manufacture too. Sodium hydroxide is bloody dangerous stuff if it is ingested in threshold quanities. How do you ensure that your process chemically binds all free OH ions hence you are not creating you own personal saponification reaction? If your pH remains high after the candi syrup is made, I would be worried about what I am eating / drinking.

Not a criticism, just looking to understand what is going on here.

Regards, Anthony
 

technobabble66

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Hey Anthony,

1) I did know that about Flanders Reds - i've had a couple of excellent ones at Vic Case Swaps :lol: . But always good to put info out there, for me or others reading it :) I'm always keen to accrue new recipes. I'm a long way off trying my hand at a Flanders Red, but some of the recipes i've seen look like they might work out to be good Belgian Red Ales also (is that what you meant?).

2) The finished syrup tested to be pH5.5. I've assumed that this means the OH ions have all been consumed (pretty certain on this one actually). I'd agree the OH ions are not to be messed with - highly dangerous, especially if in a hot sticky liquid form! It was the main consolation in finishing with an acidic syrup - while it made me wonder when it acidified & what was happening to my ideal Maillard conditions, at least it meant the Lye had been consumed. For the record, I believe the DAP decomposes at high temps to form an acid, so I'm assuming this is what caused the syrup to end up in an acidic state.
From Lael's notes:
"As DAP breaks down around ~270F it separates into two molecules of ammonium and dehydrate-phosphoric acid. So it provides both the nitrogen for browning and the acid for inversion"

FWIW, the Lye water i have is ~75% w/w Potassium carbonate and ~5% Sodium Carbonate, and apparently doesn't have NaOH or KOH in it - go figure, i bought it from an Asian Grocer, however it seems "Lye" is a general name for a variety of common alkaline solutions (e.g.: NaOH, KOH, &, it seems, K2CO3). K2CO3 should have a pH of ~11.6. The stuff i've got seems to fairly consistently hit ~pH 9.2-9.6 when in solution.

No criticism taken, always happy to continue the discussion :icon_cheers:
 

MastersBrewery

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Techno, very promising results there. Be interested to see what flavour changes and enhancements you get with some of the different sugar combo's tried earlier, especially the spec b steep (by barls if memory serves me.). It just sounds like something a brewer would do. Thanks for the detailed write up. Been away for a few weeks giving this a run when I get back.
 

technobabble66

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2 things:

1) hopefully brewing something like a Strong Belgian Red/Amber Ale tmrw. The recipe is listed in this thread, so any advice from anyone following this thread would be appreciated! (i'm assuming those following this would have an interest in Belgian Ale recipes).

2) Having a go at another batch tonight. Similar to my Batch #3, but done with 950g White sugar + 50g Dark Brown sugar.
Already done the inversion stage. Smells & tastes great. Just goes to show sometimes less in more - it's much better than my previous 50:50 version was (accounting for the excess DAP in that one also). Well, at least less is closer to what i'm hoping for with these current attempts - more rich fruity rather than roast toffee & liquorice/molasses.
 

technobabble66

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Posted this in the aforementioned recipe thread. Thought it's worthwhile to post it here:

Fwiw, this is what 2.5g of the syrup in 100mL water looks like. That's roughly the equivalent of 500g in 20L.
I'm guessing it's between 7-9 SRM, or ~14-18 EBC.
Checking Belgian Amber Candi Sugar, it comes in as ~19 EBC.
So I'm assuming that mine's close to a slightly light Amber Syrup.
ImageUploadedByAussie Home Brewer1456540725.373286.jpg

Tasted like like honeycomb. Like caramel toffee.
 

technobabble66

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OK, so i did a 2nd batch (Batch #4) of this using 5% Dark Brown sugar, and basically the same technique, but getting it up more to 127°C for a few cycles, then 130°C for a few cycles.
Finished with ~1kg of dark syrup.

BUT,
During the latter part of the boil, the strong vinegary acidic vapour coming off it was really noticeable. The pH tested to be really low, ~pH4. And now has a very very strong acidic taste, and also seems quite acrid.
I tested the pH a few time during the 2nd step, after adding 2 tbsp of Lye at room temp. Initial pH was ~10. By the time it started boiling and hit ~108°C, it was already down to pH8, and when it got closer to 115°C, was getting below pH7.

So basically, given the pH is so low both during and after the 2nd boil (caramelisation step) i'm wondering if i've just been making burnt sugar. Or in the case of this Batch#4, very very burnt sugar. There's maybe a hint of the acridity in the Batch#3, similar to the strong acridity in Batch#4. So that might have the same problem.

So the 2 apparent issues are either 1) my thermometers are all wrong, or the appropriate temps for me at ~ sea level are fairly different to Snickasaurus, etc; or 2) the pH needs to be elevated by the time the syrup starts hitting 115-125°C, so much more lye water needs to be added.

I'm going to go with option 2.

I used 2 thermometers during the attempt on Batch#4. Both cheapies, but they've generally held pretty accurate temps between 0-100°C. Both were within 1°C of each other during the caramelisation step of Batch#4. So i'm going to assume the temps were accurate enough. The targeted temps might need to be adjusted for my system - certainly lower temps for me seem to correlate to the visual result snickasaurus achieved. Definitely to be kept in mind.

I double-checked some further/background reading, & the pH should be more like pH9-10 to optimise the Maillard reactions.
All pH readings have been taken at ~ room temperature, however the syrup solution should be getting even more acidic at higher temps. I'm not sure if the ideal of pH9-10 is referring to the pH at the targeted high temp, or if it's that solution when at room temp, but i'd assume the former.
Also, the extreme smell of acidic vapour rising off the pot didn't seem like a good sign. Could be acridity of burning sugar, i s'pose.

So i think it's going to be easiest to use Lye water to adjust the pH up to ~pH9-10. The massive problem with this is guessing what the pH at the high temp is, given i need to cool it down to take a reading. Basically it'll be flying blind. A further complication is that the chemistry should be roughly along the lines of: as the Maillard reactions progress, acids are formed to (appropriately) neutralise the alkalinity, and so the syrup should be slightly acidic by then end of it. Also, glucose/fructose/sucrose become more acidic at higher temps.
So i think i'll just try an experimental batch of getting the pH ~9ish at ~120°C (when measured at room temp), and see what happens - hopefully it'll be down to an acidic/neutral state at the end, but may've done more to prevent what seems to be burnt sugar.

Otherwise, i might be grossly over-complicating what is essentially just adjusting my temps down from those Snickasaurus reported.

Also, FWIW, having fermented a ~100% med crystal micro-batch as a tester a few years ago, i can definitely vouch for the nasty acridity of raw Med Crystal. However, once blended into a beer in small proportions, it can work wonders. Again, i could be massively over-complimikatin' everything.


What does Dark or Amber Candi Syrup taste like raw?? Does it have an acridity to it?
 

Markbeer

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Raw D2 candi syrup is smooth not acrid. You would quite happily have it on pancakes.
 

Markbeer

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I have a bit more time so will post my tips. I have had lots of goes at making it.

My tips are-

- Use dextrose, why use sucrose when you need an acid to brek it down. If you use dextrose you skip this step and much more easily get a high ph because you didn't need to add an acid.
- Use ammonia bicarbonate. I have used DAP, yeast nutrient amd ammonia bicarbonate. Ammonia bicarbonate was MUCH better than the other two. You can buy it from Middle Eastern stores. It is a raising agent, but very Alkalai.
- The maillard reactions should happen very quickly. I got chocolate and dark fruit within 10 minutes.

The above may be considered cheating, but from what I read they take hours to make it.
 

technobabble66

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Hey Markbeer,
Thanks very much for those comments, both the description of D2 and your tips.

Did you find your attempts to make the candi syrup resulted in something close to D2??

I'd be very tempted to use Dex/Glucose. Certainly if i was to do a 100% white sugar syrup, i think i'd just go the Dex.
My only reservation is that the use of darker sugars should bring extra flavours. I'm keen to nail the basics first so i'm not fussed too much about the darker sugars, but OTOH i'm also keen to try to nail a process that covers both inversion & browning. I've also got a tin of Lyles golden syrup, that's meant to be pure inverted sugar with virtually no colour (i.e.: not too many extra flavours from the inversion process i'd guess) and that definitely tastes different to Dex, so i'd assume the finish product might taste different also - though i'd have no idea if that'd be good or bad.
Also, though the acid from the inversion step needs to be neutralised as part of raising the pH, once neutralised it should be out of the equation. So i wonder if i'm still back at wondering what is going on with the pH at higher temps, and trying to maintain alkaline conditions.

Searching for Ammonia Bicarbonate, or Ammonia carbonate, or Baker's Ammonia, or Harts Horn. Many different names! I've got a few Asian and Middle Eastern grocers near me, so hopefully at least one of them will have it. Any particular reason you found it to be MUCH better? just a basic difference in the flavour.

10mins! Wow. If the Maillard reactions occur so quickly, that may explain what happened with my attempts. I was cooking it for 30-45mins. That could easily explain why i was getting acrid results: i was burning the crap out of it!
OTOH, the pH was below 7 before i even hit 115°C; so the issue of acidic conditions still concerns me.
The chemistry papers i've read are fairly straight forward on this point - Maillard reactions occur at increasing rates as the pH goes up to 10, and are generally confounded if the conditions are acidic. Hence my concern with the pH readings. I think i just need a few more go's at it to build up a better empirical understanding! And stop over-analysing it ;)

It was a bit frustrating, TBH - the syrup at ~110-115°C was this brilliant to deep red colour. Looked amazing!!
Maybe next time i'll just stop it somewhere close to there and see how that tastes. FWIW, it looked roughly like what Snickasaurus was calling mid-amber syrup.


I'm super keen on cheating if it gets the right quality of results quicker B)
 

Markbeer

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If you cant eat it with a spoon its not like D2.

I would say your ph is too low.

my syrup was black yet tasted so nice straight with a spoon. Not the same as D2 though because its a different process and ingredients.

The ammonia bicarb allowed a quick change in colour to dark without acridness. I got the idea from Brew Like a Monk.

It gave me the.chocolaye and dark fruit flavour.

Even with inverted sucrose and ammonoa bicarb it didnt work the same as dextrose.
 

technobabble66

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Quick update on a few things.

I've done some more reading on the technical aspects of the chemistry involved. Let's just say it gets complicated quickly.

The term Maillard reactions is more an umbrella term to cover a large array of reactions that eventually produce the Maillard reaction products (MRPs), which are basically what we're after. These seem to segregate into several main steps, each with their own reaction kinetics/conditions. These are poorly understood, partly because everything happens at once and it's almost impossible for researchers to track what's being formed at what rates. That's all a bit less relevant to us, other than to indicate some of what might be going on, and that there's limited value in theorising too heavily on the chemistry or how to manipulate it.
What i did find interesting were certain aspects of the initial step where the reducing sugars (e.g.: glucose, fructose, etc) react with an amine group (e.g.: amino acid, ammonia). Namely that the amine group can't really react at all below pH 7. However, even though this reaction is optimised more towards pH9-10, it doesn't seem necessary to push the pH that high to get a significant level of reaction. Also, though the temperatures required for the Maillard reaction have commonly been quoted around 125-135°C, the researchers were performing the reactions at ~90°C (& pH7-8).
The reason i've highlighted this is that i've tried the Candi syrup process a few times now, and if i push the temps towards the target of ~125-135°C i seem to get burnt acrid syrup. TBH, i've no idea yet why a few people on this thread seem to have been fine and mine is going nasty.

BUT, i did a batch yesterday using Ammonia Carbonate (cheers, Markbeer!) and it seems to have produced a reasonable result, even though i'm sure i didn't get anywhere near 125°C, let alone 135°C.
I started with 400g white sugar + 100g LDME in 1 cup of water.
Added 7g citric acid (should've been 3g, i misread/miscalculated the reference i was using as a guide for hitting my desired pH of ~3.5).
Checked pH, =3.2.
Brought up to a low simmer for 15-20mins. Slightest colour in the syrup. Temps went from ~105°C at the start to ~107°C at the end.
Took it off the heat, added the Lye water to hit ph9.2. This took ~3.5 tbsp to do (that's a lot!). Dramatic colour change to a deep red. Large amount of frothing occurred.
Started heating again.
Immediately the pH starts dropping down to pH8.
Also involved a sudden boil over (WHY do i turn away from the syrup every time it gets to this stage?!?).
After a cleanup, i had to leave it cooling for several hours (work got in the way dammit!)

Back to it, started heating.
Checked pH also, and found it to be ~pH7.7-8.
So i added another 2 tsp of Lye. Back up to ~pH9.
Frothing started as soon as the syrup got close to a simmer. Constantly had to take it off the heat to subdue the froth.
Added 1/2 tsp of Ammonia Carbonate. Crazy frothing.
pH was still dropping, so i tried adding 1/2 tsp Ammonia Carbonate into 1 tsp Lye, then adding that to the syrup. This was to maybe try to ensure the ammonia was in solution at the same time the solution was in the targeted pH9 range.
Over a period of 30mins, i was constantly taking it off the heat for 1-5mins, then putting it back on for 1/2-1min before the froth got to the top of the pot again.
Temp checks during this indicated it was generally ~108°C.
pH was also steadily dropping gradually back to pH7.5.
Left cool again (bedtime).
A little more heating to froth up a bit and dehydrate it a bit more (too much water still in it). After 2-3 rounds of froth (~5-10mins) i decided it'd be thick enough and have let it cool down.
Final temp reading was 112°C.
Final pH=7.1
Dissolved in water it has almost no sweetness, but seemed to taste ok.
Adding some sugar to it, it tastes very much like a deep caramel. SWMBO said "just like gula melaka". Which is a little anti-climatic as i was hoping for something much better than gula melaka, but OTOH it's at least along the right lines of being a caramelly sugar. (And SWMBO can be a little overly simple in her descriptions).

SO,
The process seemed to go OK, at least.
I need to obviously refine my citric acid & Lye (and Ammonia) additions.
The temperature doesn't seem to need to go as high as i thought.
Hopefully i can simplify and speed up the process (e.g.: down to the 10mins Markbeer & others mention.
I wonder if the distinct lack of sweetness in the resulting syrup may indicate a very high level of conversion/consumption of the sugars, to (hopefully) be producing a very high level of Maillard products.
Not sure if i'm producing almost all Maillard products and very little Caramelisation products. (whereas i'm assuming i really want some of both for the beer).
Given the rapid dropping of the pH, i'm assuming the pH doesn't need to be at pH9 the whole time. Or if it does it'll require a lot of Lye, and a continuous addition.
 

technobabble66

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Yep. I've been dreamin of perfect temp control in that 90-140*C range!!
It'd be awesome to be able to hit, say, 105 and hold it.
I suspect the gradual change in the proportion of water confounds this anyway
 

lael

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You can control the temperature by adding a few tsp of water when you hit your desired Temp
 

technobabble66

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Yeah, doing that, lael. Seems to work quite well, but needs fairly constant monitoring.
Lazy me would prefer a set & forget method. Or at least one that didn't need constant temperature checks.
Currently the most minor of my problems, though [emoji6]
 

Markbeer

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Is there any reason you don't want to start with dextrose?
 

technobabble66

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Stubbornness.
Matter of principle. I wanted to get the process right so I could use any type of starting sugar.
Still tossing up whether I'm an idiot and just use dex to get the 2nd step right. That's probably the smarter way to go about it [emoji57]
 

Markbeer

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Why don't you use dextrose then you know what you are exactly after?
 
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