I first learnt about making my own candi sugar in 2008 and since then I’ve made kilos of it for use in my home brew. Often I talk to fellow brewers and they complain that it can be hard to source. Don’t bother, if its not readily available, make it yourself.
Chemically, candi sugar is sugar that has been “inverted” by converting standard cane sugar’s sucrose into fructose and glucose using an acid, like citric acid, as a catalyst agent.
To the home brewer candi sugar is a Belgian sugar that is commonly used in brewing larger styles such as Dubbels and Tripels. The use of candi sugar not only boosts the alcohol content associated with these styles, but it can also add complex flavours to the final beer due to the caramelisation that takes place in producing candi sugar.
The problem, as I mentioned earlier, is that candi sugar, certainly in Australia, can be a difficult and expensive product to get a hold of forcing brewers to use normal cane sugar in its place. Unfortunately this will not produce the complex flavours the brewer desires, often leaving a cider-like flavour behind instead – due to the use of cane sugar.
Thankfully candi sugar is very easy to make and it can be cooled and frozen for future use. You have no excuses now!
To make sugar you will need a saucepan, a probe thermometer (or candy thermometer), sugar, water and citric acid. If you cannot find citric acid, you can use Lemon or Lime juice in its place, which is what I do.
Add 500 grams of white sugar to a cold saucepan and add just enough water to cover the sugar making a syrup like solution. If in doubt, use less water instead of more as you can always add water, but its very hard to remove water once added.
To the syrup solution add two tablespoons of lemon or lime juice. If you have citric acid only use one teaspoon in place of the juice. Which juice you use can apparently change the flavour profile of the candi sugar so you may like to experiment; personally I cannot taste the difference but I have friends who swear they can detect the difference, so be warned.
At this point you need to slowly bring the temperature of the syrup up to around 125° C and hold it there until you are happy with the colour of the syrup. The longer you hold at this temperature the darker the colour. This process will take around 20 minutes for an amber candi sugar. As the water boils off the sugar will increase in temperature, so you may need to add more water over time to hold your target temperature.
When you’re happy with the colour raise the temperature to 150° C (called the hard-crack), stop adding water, and take it off the heat.
Immediately pour onto a tray lined with wax paper and allow to cool and harden at room temperature.
Once cooled, remove the wax paper and you can break it up into smaller pieces and store in an airtight container in your freezer – if not using that day.
Congratulations, you know have a supply of candi sugar for use in any recipes that call for it.
Before you go, I’d like to share three tips that I learnt the hard way:
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