Ibrahim Belo Written by Ibrahim Belo

Golden syrup or glucose syrup? Your questions answered

Glucose syrup and golden syrup are both sweet – 42DE glucose, which is viscous, whereas 63DE glucose has a sweeter taste.  Viscous products, no matter their strength, contain a variety of applications, from baking to confectionary, and even in pharmaceuticals. So what are the specific properties of these syrups, and which is better suited to your industry?

Glucose syrup 63DE, also known as corn syrup – is made from either maize or wheat. A refined and concentrated solution of dextrose, maltose and higher saccharides makes up this product, resulting in a transparent syrup with a light, sweet taste.

Golden syrup is an invert sugar made from sucrose and is one of the oldest branded and best-loved sugar products. It’s amber colour and caramelised flavour make it instantly recognisable all over the world.

Glucose syrup and Golden syrup, showing their colour and consistency.

How are both syrups made?

Glucose syrup is made through a process called hydrolysis of starch. This is a chemical reaction that breaks down starch, producing a concentrated solution with a high glucose content.

There are two methods to achieving this, either through acid hydrolysis or enzyme hydrolysis. The acid hydrolysis method – which is the most common of the two – involves extracting the starch to be ground and soaked, before mixing it with sulphur dioxide and water.

The mixture is then heated under pressure, converting it into a solution of dextrose, maltose, and higher saccharides. From here, the diluted syrup passes through a filtration process to remove impurities and is evaporated under vacuum to raise its concentration. Then it passes through one more filter, resulting in a glucose syrup that is ready to be packaged. More details about the exact science of this process can be found in this blog from our archive: Granular detail: glucose syrup.

Golden syrup is an invert sugar. To produce this familiar product, first sucrose is heated with water in an inversion pan until it forms a syrup. Either acid hydrolysis – which is the most common – or enzyme hydrolysis then occurs when the pH levels are just right, meaning the sucrose is able to invert into glucose and fructose molecules. The syrup is then neutralised with a natural alkaline agent and heated enough for sugars to caramelise.

At this point the additional sugar is added to the pan, producing a partial invert. An alkaline is then added to the syrup to bind all the non-sugar particles and the syrup passes through a filter to maximise its purity. The product is stored in maturation tanks and then passed through another filter, finally creating the golden syrup product ready to be packed to customers’ requirements.

The Ragus team at the factory. Experts in the production of syrups and pure sugars.

What are their properties?

When it comes to taste, glucose syrup (63DE) is light and sweet, making it a particularly popular stabilising ingredient in formulations which require a sweetener that isn’t too overbearing. By contrast, golden syrup has a distinctive, natural caramelised flavour and very sweet taste. It’s sweetness value is approximately 20% higher than straight sucrose (white sugar).

As well as being used for their flavours, both syrups are also humectants, meaning they attract water molecules and can help retain moisture in the products they’re used in. Glucose syrup’s humectant qualities help add volume and mouthfeel to food and beverages, while golden syrup can withstand high baking temperatures and prevent crystallisation.

What are their applications?

Glucose syrup is one of the most versatile sugar products available. It is found in confectionery, beverages, bakery, sauces, and pharmaceuticals. Its viscous texture makes it a popular ingredient for adding volume to sweets, making them chewy and sticky, as well as being used in beverages to add body and mouthfeel.

Glucose syrup’s humectant properties make it a valuable ingredient in multiple industries. For instance, glucose syrup is added to packaged baked goods, as well as jams and sauces, to prevent crystallisation and to help preserve the product. Similarly, it is added to pharmaceutical products to protect their shelf life.

Like many invert sugars, golden syrup is primarily used when manufacturing products in bulk to prevent crystallisation due to its humectant qualities. However, its distinct flavour profile and ability to withstand high baking temperatures makes it ideally suited to biscuits, cakes, cookies, and flapjacks. It can be the base ingredient, such as with a treacle tart, but it can also be used to support other ingredients.

Golden syrup is also used when producing ice cream, both to add flavour and depress the freezing point, limiting crystallisation. Its caramel flavour makes it a popular topping, whether poured over fruit, porridge or desserts.

The current rise in veganism has also seen golden syrup increasingly utilised as a substitute for honey in a variety of products.

Syrups that create a variety of products, from beverages to bakery and even pharmaceuticals. 

Helping you choose the right product

Both golden syrup and glucose syrup are products with a variety of applications due to their extensive properties. Their versatility lies in their sweetness and viscosity, as well as their humectant properties, which make them both valuable ingredients for multiple industries.

Ragus manufactures bulk pure sugars and syrups for industry. To learn more about how our pure sugar products can enhance your application, contact a member of our customer services team on +44 (0)1753 215424 or enquiries@ragus.co.uk. For more sugar news and Ragus updates, follow Ragus on LinkedIn.