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What is glucose syrup, and how is it used?
Glucose syrup is one of the most versatile food products available. Its unique properties mean it is found in a wide range of applications, including confectionery, beverages, bakery, sauces and pharmaceuticals. In this blog we explain the properties, production methods and applications of this widely used food and beverage ingredient.
Glucose syrup is widely used because of its basic properties: its lack of a distinct taste, its transparency and its viscosity. Depending on which type is used, glucose syrups can provide texture, volume, taste, glossiness, improved stability and a longer shelf-life.
What is glucose syrup?
Glucose syrup is a refined and concentrated solution of dextrose, maltose and higher saccharides, obtained by hydrolysis of starch. It is a sweetener, bulking agent and a humectant. These properties make it a popular ingredient in the food and beverage industry.
Invert sugar syrups share some of the properties of glucose syrup, so with some reformulation, they can be used as a substitute for glucose syrups. Glucose syrup usually comes from either corn or wheat. So, corn syrup is a type of glucose syrup.
Golden syrup is a similar syrup made from sugar but has a distinctive caramelised taste that can overpower subtler flavours in a food product. You can find out more in our blog Golden syrup or glucose syrup: your questions answered.
Types of glucose syrup
Glucose syrups are grouped according to their dextrose equivalent (DE), expressed as a DE number between 20 and 100. The longer the hydrolysis process, the more sugars are reduced, and the higher the DE.
At Ragus, we mainly supply two glucose syrups, glucose syrup 63DE, and glucose syrup 42DE. With a higher DE number, our 63DE syrup is sweeter and less viscous than our 42DE syrup because it has been processed for longer.
How is glucose syrup made?
The manufacturing process was invented in Russia in 1811 by German scientist, Gottlieb Kirchhoff, who discovered the process by heating starch, water and sulphuric acid together. In commercial production, the starch must be separated from the plant material. This includes removing fibre and protein. Protein affects flavour and colour, and fibre must be removed to allow the starch to become hydrated.
The starch is then soaked to allow enzymes to act on it before heating – or gelatinisation – breaks down the bonds between the molecules and prepares them for hydrolysis, where the substance becomes syrup. Finally, the glucose syrup passes through filters to remove any impurities for a stable, colourless product.
What products use glucose syrup?
Glucose syrup uses include confectionery and baking, jams and sauces, canned goods, beer and soft drinks. Because it doesn’t crystallise and extends shelf-life, it’s often used in pharmaceuticals and medicines too.
In confectionery, the syrup’s viscosity adds volume to sweets, helping them become sweeter, chewier and stickier. After confectionery, the use of glucose syrup in beverages is the next most popular application. As a concentrated source of sugars, glucose syrup adds sweetness to juices, carbonated soft drinks and sports drinks.
In packaged baked goods, such as cake, glucose syrup gives a moist texture, and keeps biscuits crunchy. It also prevents sugar crystallisation in jams and sauces, alongside keeping ice cream free of large ice crystals.
With a primary responsibility for manufactured product quality control, Ibrahim works within our supplier chain, factory and production laboratory. He has a focus on continuous improvement, implementing and maintaining our technical and quality monitoring processes, ensuring standards and product specifications are met.