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Tiki Central Forums » » Tiki Drinks and Food » » Rock Candy (TV's) vs. Simple syrup
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Rock Candy (TV's) vs. Simple syrup
JaredB
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Apr 06, 2005
Posts: 29
Posted: 2005-04-07 11:41 am   Permalink

So, when I got into this cocktail thing I bought some bar syrup. All the cocktail books said that bar syrup/simple syrup/ and rock candy syrup were all the same. However:

I noticed that Trader Vic's rock candy syrup adds a vanilla flavor. Maybe this makes it better for tropical drinks? But if I were to use it for all the other non-tiki cocktails would it screw up their delicate balance?

Also, it's a shame that all of the bar syrups I've found (including TV's? can't remember) contain corn syrup instead of sugar.

Guess it's time to just make my own. But I'm still wondering about the vanilla flavor thing...


 
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KuKuAhu
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Dec 23, 2002
Posts: 567
From: Kahiki, Ohio
Posted: 2005-04-07 1:24 pm   Permalink

They use corn syrup for a few reasons, but the most notable reason is shelf life. It is unlikely to crystalize in the bottle like cane sugar syrup will. That and corn syrup is cheaper than cane sugar.

I'd make your own if I were you. It's so easy to do, and that way you can experiment with different types of sugar. I make my favorite with a Hawaiian blond sugar I buy on Kauai. It has the color of dark rum when finished, and the caramel flavor and slightly fruity nose adds that subtle extra edge to a good drink.

I've used organic sugars as well, and they make very nice (though a bit cloudy...?) syrup as well.

You can always add vanilla to a bottle of homemade for your Vic's drinks if you like, and that way you can choose the method by which it is flavored. I've used both expensive and cheap extracts as well as vanilla beans to do exactly that and have had great results with all three. Honestly, the best tasting one was with a heavy imported (and somewhat expensive) mexican extract believe it or not.

And if you like, you can add a little corn syrup to your finished cane sugar product to improve the shelf life by discouraging crystal formation.

I use mine up fast enough to not bother, but it really does work.



Mahalo,

Alton Brow...oops...I mean Ahu



 
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Swanky
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Joined: Apr 03, 2002
Posts: 5050
From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
Posted: 2005-04-07 2:04 pm   Permalink

I have had a bit of crystalization before, but since keepingit in the fridge, I have had no problems other than sticky mess.

The honey syrup grew mold when I kept it out, but, since it's been in the fridge, no problems.

The typical recipe fills a liter bottle just right.
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JerseyRED
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Joined: Jun 15, 2004
Posts: 54
From: North Jersey!
Posted: 2005-04-08 09:23 am   Permalink

And that High Frutose Corn Syrup will eventually kill ya!

 
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Kukoae
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Joined: Apr 26, 2005
Posts: 37
From: The Valley
Posted: 2005-05-25 9:01 pm   Permalink

I made a batch (the 2#/2cups recipe), which produces about 1L almost exactly... I had two empty TV "Mai Tai Mix" bottles handy, so I recycled 'em for duty. Since I've kicked the Mai-Tai-Mix bucket, it seems appropriate.

I added about 1/2 tsp of Organic Vanilla extract to my batch, which was made with whatever cane sugar I had on hand: most of it was "organic" washed sugar from Trader Joe's (it's light tan in colour and has largish crystals), with some white "bleached" granulated sugar to shore it up to the 2#.

I cooked it for a good 5 minutes, and let it cool, and after 3-4 days, I'm seeing some light crystallisation already, though it's not severe enough for me to worry too much.

Clearly, this solvent/solute ratio is borderline supersaturated - why is it so? Is it to absolutely maximise the sweetening power per mL, i.e., reduce the diluting impact of the solvent?

Beachbum says this can be kept unrefrigerated. Is this true in practice?

=Kukoae=


 
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JTD
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Joined: Apr 07, 2003
Posts: 407
From: J'ville
Posted: 2005-05-26 05:01 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2005-05-25 21:01, Kukoae wrote:
Beachbum says this can be kept unrefrigerated. Is this true in practice?



Yes. We've never had a problem with it.


 
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Traitor Vic
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Joined: Jan 02, 2003
Posts: 428
From: Greenville, SC
Posted: 2005-05-30 6:15 pm   Permalink

Upon starting to make my last batch I remembered an unused Vanilla Bean that I had in the pantry. I sliced it in half and tossed it into the boiling water before adding Turbinado Sugar. After removing the resulting syrup from the stove top I added about 4 oz. of fresh lemon juice (as suggested in an old Bartender's Guide that my father has from the 60s). The end result is a remarkable syrup with a smooth vanilla aftertaste and a hint of citrus bite. When it comes down to it, however, I really can't tell too much difference in most cocktails (in which the average amount is, like, from 1/2 teaspoon to 1/2 ounce). Also, because of the vanilla and lemon juice, this batch is definately refridgerated. I might make some more like it in the future but I think just plain sugar and water is just fine under normal circumstances.

[ This Message was edited by: Traitor Vic on 2005-05-30 18:18 ]


 
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I dream of tiki
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 12, 2004
Posts: 494
From: Pittsburgh, PA
Posted: 2005-05-30 11:30 pm   Permalink

Traitor Vic, dumb question: Which kind of vanilla bean did you use? Madagascar or Tahitian?

For those who know, do you mind if I ask how are the Madagascar and Tahitian vanilla beans different aside from name and price? Will the type differentiation make a difference at all in the making of the sugar syrup?

My apologies if my questions have hijacked the tread. Say the word and its a new topic.


 
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Kukoae
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Apr 26, 2005
Posts: 37
From: The Valley
Posted: 2005-06-02 7:15 pm   Permalink

OK, I'm now very curious.

It's the third week after making my Simple Syrup, and I'm seeing additional recrystallisation.

I doubt it's significantly reducing the sweetening power of my syrup, but I wonder if it will ever stop reverting to crystalline form.

I am curious about how the "commercial" vendors who make all-natural/organic Simple Syrups avoid this problem, like those sold at Peet's Coffee+Tea, etc. Their ingredient list has only cane ugar + water, with no additives, and yet those bottles have zero crystals in them.

Do they just use less sugar? I know the recrystallisation is due to the meta-stable supersaturated solution.

One thing I also know is that it doesn't matter how finely crystallised a sugar you start with, the size of the seed crystals in the bottom will always end up fairly sizeable in the characteristic rectangular cubic shapes.

I "cooked" my syrup for quite some time, by the way. I was absolutely certain is was fully dissolved.

=Kukoae=


 
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Traitor Vic
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 02, 2003
Posts: 428
From: Greenville, SC
Posted: 2005-06-04 12:39 am   Permalink

Mine was a Tahitian Vanilla Bean. Not by choice (though it would have been simply because of where it was from), but because it was the only kind available at the store when I bought it. I don't know of any difference in the flavor or quality of the two. I do know that all of them are pretty darned expensive (around here anyway).

 
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DemeraraDrinker
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Joined: Mar 28, 2007
Posts: 92
From: Kansas City
Posted: 2007-05-20 08:30 am   Permalink

OK, I need to resurrect this thread. I make my Mai Tais with cane syrup instead of Rock Candy Syrup. I don't want to buy a 1 liter bottle of Vic's RCS to only use 1/4 oz per drink.

I know that Vic's RCS is what is specified, but it looks like a lot of mixers from Vic these days look like corn syrup laced stand-ins for the real thing. Case in point: Navy Grog mix? It seems to follow the general trend to put everything in a bottle so it is cheaper and easier and usually sweeter (Pat O's hurricane mix comes to mind). I hate this trend. How do you bottle the lime oil that is abraded out of the skin with a muller? So coming from this mentality, I'm a little doubtful of Vic's RCS from a quality standpoint, not just cause I don't need a whole liter.

I hear that RCS has a vanilla flavor to it. So could I make some RCS by putting some of my cane syrup in a bottle (no more than a pint) and put a vanilla bean in with it? Would that do it? I'd just leave the bean in there and use it (kind of like peppers in pepper vinegar).

I keep vanilla beans in a jar at room temp, so would this syrup be OK at room temp?

Is there more to Vic's RCS than vanilla? I also thought of trying Falernum (syrup with ginger, almond, lime) intead of RCS, but Falernum has a REALLY distinctive taste and may take the Mai Tai in the wrong direction.

What do you all think?


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Scottes
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Joined: Feb 18, 2007
Posts: 490
From: A Little North Of Boston
Posted: 2007-05-20 10:14 am   Permalink

I think that the amount of vanilla in 1/4 oz of RCS would be completely unnoticeable in a Mai Tai.
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mbanu
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Joined: Aug 02, 2005
Posts: 84
Posted: 2007-05-20 12:27 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2007-05-20 08:30, DemeraraDrinker wrote:
OK, I need to resurrect this thread. I make my Mai Tais with cane syrup instead of Rock Candy Syrup. I don't want to buy a 1 liter bottle of Vic's RCS to only use 1/4 oz per drink.



The original difference between rock candy syrup and simple syrup was only in appearance. Rock candy syrup was simple syrup where a stray grain of undissolved sugar or something similar had snuck into the bottle and started the syrup crystallizing. Calling it rock candy syrup was kind of a clever way of turning a defect in house-made syrups into something cool and exotic.

Actually, you can ignore the rock candy syrup entirely if you use a milder orgeat.

The orgeat used in old tiki drinks was fairly concentrated. That's one of the reasons it needed to be cut with rock candy syrup, so the strong flavor wouldn't overwhelm the other ingredients. If you started out with a lighter flavored orgeat, you wouldn't need rock candy syrup.

[ This Message was edited by: mbanu 2007-05-20 12:28 ]


 
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DemeraraDrinker
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Joined: Mar 28, 2007
Posts: 92
From: Kansas City
Posted: 2007-05-21 09:54 am   Permalink

OK, I'll try that (using just orgeat). Monin orgeat is rather mild, especially compared to Falernum.

Thanks.
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The Gnomon
Grand Member (7 years)  

Joined: May 01, 2007
Posts: 1293
From: MD-DC-VA
Posted: 2007-05-21 12:32 pm   Permalink

I use my own Extreme Rock Candy syrup. I say "extreme" because not all rock candy syrup is alike and mine is extremely unstable.

Simple syrup is a saturated solution of sugar water; which means essentially that at room temperature no more sugar can be dissolved into the solution. Any additional sugar crystals that are added simply fall to the bottom and are not dissolved.

To supersaturate the solution, you need to heat it. Under heat, more sugar will dissolve into the same solution; the greater the heat the greater amount of sugar can be dissolved. As soon as you are able to add sugar beyond the sugar water's saturation point (simple syrup), it becomes supersaturated and capable of making rock candy.

When it first enters the realm of the supersaturated, it's not all that unstable but, technically, if you suspend a string (for example) down into the solution, after about a week a decent amount of rock candy should have formed on it. But if you add lots of heat, stirring in more and more sugar the whole time as you go, you'll end up (after it cools) with a very unstable solution—unstable meaning that you just have to look cross-eyed at it and rock candy crystals will begin to precipitate.

Then it gets better. As the solution cools uncovered, water continues to evaporate from the solution. So...the ratio of sugar to remaining water increases, making its supersaturation and instability even more extreme.

Here is a pic of a partial jar of syrup that had been sitting around long enough to turn about 90% into rock candy. Sorry about the blur (jiggled my phone camera), but you get the idea. The way you revive it is to stick it into a pot of simmering water for a good while, until you get tired of waiting.



When you get tired of waiting, you set it out to cool. As you can see, I was able to return about half of the remaining contents of the jar into extreme RC syrup before my patience ran out. My syrup is usually dark, for one because I use raw or minimally refined sugar which is not completely white, and two, I don't stir it rapidly and constantly to deter it from caramelizing. I refuse to undertake the task without arming myself with a few Mai Tais throughout the production process. Such interruptions are enough to experience caramelization (of both brain and syrup). You could probably make a fairly clear batch by using a mechanical stirring device (that won't melt) and never stop stirring the whole time. I just use Chinese cooking tongs (aka 18" chopsticks) and stir when the mood stikes me.



BTW, a jar of extreme syrup looks innocent enough, but it has about 5 or so pounds of sugar in it, so it weighs as much as a jar of water plus 5 or so pounds. Even if you know what it is in advance, your mind doesn't register how heavy it is until you start to pick it up. It's heavier than a brick.

Now why would anyone actually want to use extreme RC syrup in a Mai Tai (or other concoction)? A drop of RC syrup doesn't taste any sweeter than a drop of simple syrup. I'll leave it to you to experiment and figure out, but let's say that you wanted to turn your orgeat syrup and curacao mixture into a supersaturated syrup solution, for some magical mixological reason. The best way to do it would be to allow the simple syrup in the orgeat and curacao to join forces with the supersaturated rock candy syrup. The combined sugar water components of the three ingredients would overall be supersaturated.

NOTE: Make sure not to combine lime juice with the RC syrup until the very last moment. It can ruin any rock candy crystalization effects you might be seeking. Candy makers use acids to soften candy because the acid prevents the sugar from crystallizing.


 
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