Sucrose, fructose and glucose sugars

Words by Simon Difford

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Bog standard cane sugar, the type we use in our tea and coffee is sucrose. When this is heated with water it breaks down into fructose and glucose through a process called hydrolysis to produce what's known as inverted sugar.

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Bakers prefer inverted sugar as products made using it tend to retain more moisture and are less prone to crystallization. But what is good in the kitchen is not good behind the bar.

Sucrose-based sugar syrup is the most viscous but if overheated during the syrup-making process then some of this viscosity will be lost as the sucrose hydrolyses into less viscous fructose and glucose. Fructose is the least viscous sugar with glucose slightly more viscous than fructose, but sucrose is almost twice as viscous as glucose.

While hydrolysing sucrose into fructose and glucose results in less viscosity it has the opposite effect on sweetness with a 50/50 sucrose and glucose syrup being around 25% sweeter than 100% sucrose syrup. (Glucose is about 75% of the sweetness of sucrose but Fructose is nearly twice as sweet as sucrose.)

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