What is corn syrup?
Corn syrup is almost exactly as sweet as the granulated sugar it often replaces in recipes. It can be naturally light in color, which is often used in candymaking, or darker, which is usually used for general baking purposes. The light form may have vanilla flavoring added, while the dark syrup has a stronger natural flavor.
The advantage of this product over sugar is its resistance to crystallization. A candy lollipop made with corn syrup will retain its smooth texture, while a similar treat made from pure sugar may turn into a hardened rock candy. It also prohibits crystal formation when added to a cake or fudge mixture.
Light and dark syrup both have a balance of dextrose, fructose, malt, and glucose to keep them chemically stable, although this sweetener does have a limited shelf life compared to others. The most controversial form — high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) — is rarely sold directly to consumers, although it can be found in a majority of processed foods sold in grocery stores.
HFCS is subjected to additional processes as compared to regular corn syrup. First, three types of enzymes — alpha-amylase, glucoamylase, and glucose-isomerase — are successively added to change the starch to glucose and then fructose. Pure glucose is then added to the mixture to create the ratio of fructose to glucose that makes up the final product. There are various fructose-glucose ratios in HFCS, including 90-10, 42-43, and 55-45. HFCS has become the default sweetener in many consumer food products.
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