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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
opinionated alchemist

Joined: Nov 26, 2008
Posts: 1
From: Dubai
Posted: 2008-11-26 11:10 am   Permalink

I am not sure about the real reason after this Candy Rock Syrup!
I am almost sure, that you have a different sugar category - if you heat it that much and oversaturate this - but only one can tell us for sure...

So I will head over to
www.artofdrink.com and will ask Darcy, if he can help us to understand, what actually the difference between simple syrup and candy rock syrup really is!

For those who experimented with it: does it has a different taste as simple syrup [except of the concentration of sugar]?
Only an opinionated person can surely be a real bartender...

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57 Chevy

Joined: Dec 16, 2008
Posts: 1
Posted: 2008-12-16 08:57 am   Permalink

Simple syrup is chemically different from just sugar dissolved in water and much more stable if you simmer it for a period of time. It not only becomes sweeter than the original sugar, it doesn't crystallize with time. What you are looking for is "invert sugar". Simple syrup can be sugar water, or it can be invert sugar water. Sugar water will become rock candy syrup in short order. Invert sugar is liquid simple syrup, period. Search Google for it. There is a Tiki, I mean Wiki =) about it that is pretty thorough although the reference to how long it takes to make is wrong. A reference to Sugar.org is at the end of this post which corrects the sweetness argument too.

"Sweet Tea" commonly served in the south US is not table sugar dissolved in tea. It is invert sugar dissolved in tea.

Here's the difference in what you are making, or buying. There are two things that can change dissolved sugar into invert sugar. Time and acid. One teaspoon of lemon juice per pound (about 3 cups) is enough to break sucrose(cane sugar) into fructose and glucose. At this point you can use less sugar to sweeten to the same degree because the end product is sweeter than the original. If you want to supersaturate it, then it will just have more sugar to water ratio, and be less diluted. It will also take more time, heat, and and patience, and you have to be careful you don't make candy by heating it too hot. You will turn it into caramel colored goo if you heat it long enough. The good part is, a dash of water and you are back where you started except for the color. Sugar is sugar is sucrose off the shelf anyway. I should say usually, not always. What is most different about them is the impurities. Molasses, or the stuff not refined out of the sugar is what makes it dark. Honey is a form of inverted sugar, hence the ability to stay liquid for as long as it does. My recipe is 1.5 L water and 3 lbs plain sugar. Either simmer it for 20 minutes or longer, or add three tsp. lemon juice and simmer less than half the time. You still have to give the sucrose time to break down. Rock candy syrup is just sugar water that has not been completely inverted. A stray crystal or surface imperfection will give the crystals a place to grow (string). Boil that rock candy syrup for 20 minutes and guess what? It isn't Rock candy syrup anymore! It is a marketing thing so they can produce more, faster, cheaper. Make invert sugar out of any type of sugar you wish. If you want simple syrup to stay liquid, spend the time to make it invert, or add acid. At 3 tsp. citric acid, or lemon juice, you can't taste it, even straight. It is so much easier than trying to get crystallized sugar water to run through a bottle pourer too. All my cordials and mixes use it.

From sugar.org - Invert sugar
Sucrose can be split into its two component sugars (glucose and fructose). This process is called inversion, and the product is called invert sugar. Commercial invert sugar is a liquid product that contains equal amounts of glucose and fructose. Because fructose is sweeter than either glucose or sucrose, invert sugar is sweeter than white sugar. Commercial liquid invert sugars are prepared as different mixtures of sucrose and invert sugar. For example total invert sugar is half glucose and half fructose, while 50% invert sugar (half of the sucrose has been inverted) is one-half sucrose, one-quarter glucose and one-quarter fructose. Invert sugar is used mainly by food manufacturers to retard the crystallization of sugar and to retain moisture in the packaged food. Which particular invert sugar is used is determined by which function retarding crystallization or retaining moisture is required.

I hope this clears up why your simple syrup is making rock candy. While worthless for the recipe, maybe your customers like to look at the pretty crystals in the bottom of the bottle. =)

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Limbo Lizard
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Aug 24, 2006
Posts: 779
From: Aboard the 'Leaky Tiki', Dallas
Posted: 2008-12-18 09:03 am   Permalink

Thanks, 57 Chevy, for your research and a very informative post. It explains some things I'd wondered about, over the years.
I've been making my own bar syrup since the late 70's, always in the 2:1 sugar to water ratio. I had forgotten where I got that recipe. But, since the 1972 TV Bartenders Guide was my bible, back then, I suspected it as the source. Sure enough, page 29, "Standard proportions for sugar syrup or simple syrup are two parts sugar to one part water."
I've always heated the water, to help dissolve the sugar, but not in any systematic or measured way - just made sure not too hot or long, so it wouldn't caramelize. Sometimes, my syrup would form some crystals on the bottom, sometimes not. Never sure why. I didn't realize that the heating was actually changing the chemical composition (and taste profile). Now I know each batch was probably a little different, with different amounts of the sucrose inverted.
I 'Googled' the subject, as you suggested, and, Oh, Lordy! Turns out that the making of variations of sugar syrup is a whole subject unto itself, especially on serious cooking or candy making boards. As you pointed out, the sugar/water ratio and the amount of inversion, due to heating, produces a different end result. Some of these folks carefully monitor their syrup's state of inversion, while heating, by checking the specific gravity with a hydrometer!
Suddenly, "simple syrup" doesn't seem so simple, anymore. This opens a whole new world for the more AR mixologists, among us.
"The rum's the thing..."

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Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 23, 2010
Posts: 1319
Posted: 2013-06-01 10:41 pm   Permalink

All these threads about sugar syrup and adding a little lemon juice (acid) to prevent mineralization makes me wonder: would a few drops of lemon juice prevent honey from crystallizing?

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Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Oct 05, 2008
Posts: 933
From: Agoura Hills, CA
Posted: 2013-06-01 11:46 pm   Permalink

When I make honey mix (equal parts honey and water, heated on low flame just until combined), I've always bottled it and added ~1/2 oz silver rum to help preserve it. I've yet to have it crystalize.


if it's not a little complicated, it's probably not worth it.
5 Minutes of Rum

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Grand Member (7 years)  

Joined: Apr 03, 2008
Posts: 2400
From: Deep in the Jacksonville Florida jungle.
Posted: 2013-06-02 06:58 am   Permalink

I add Everclear for this purpose - it's considered less likely to add any flavor from whatever brand of silver rum you use. I also avoid vodka for the same reason - many vodkas still impart flavors. Everclear (which is a high purity grain alcohol) is considered by most I've talked to as least likely to impart anything more than a minor alcohol taste into whatever you're trying to preserve.

I had this conversation with Jeff Berry one year at The Hukilau when I cornered him with my list of questions... His suggestion was silver rum OR straight grain alcohol, and I opted for the Everclear for lack-of-flavor reasons. It's worked well for me, although I'm not exactly settled on what ratio of Everclear is required for best effectiveness. Too little doesn't work well and too much gives syrups an additional (undesired) alcohol taste which can impact the balance of a drink.

I've been making cold-process sugar syrup by blending it to death. I need to revisit the whole cold-process versus heated (invert sugar) thing again in the future. I find that cocktail recipes are often very unclear about what their definition of "simple syrup" or "rock candy syrup" is.

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