Belgian Candi Sugar

Belgian Candi (Candy) Sugar a.k.a Invert sugar, Brewer's sugar is one of the main ingredients in Belgian style ales.


What is it?
- Invert sugar is a highly fermentable mixture of Glucose and Fructose and tastes much sweeter than regular table sugar. It is used to boost the alcohol content without adding extra body to the beer. Invert sugar is healthier for the yeast as compared to table sugar because the yeast is not stressed into producing an enzyme - invertase - which breaks down complex sugars into simpler ones for further fermentation.

It is extremely difficult to get your hands on Belgian Candi sugar/syrup unless you visit a specialty food store and are willing to pay handsomely for it. So in this post I will be explaining you the process of making Candi Sugar at home. You will be able to make an entire selection of different colour rated syrups ranging form Clear, Amber, Brown to the Darkest of the Candi sugars.
Advantage of invert sugar is its long shelf life. You can easily store the syrup for 6 months while the sugar slabs can be stored for upto a year. I usually make a batch of 2 kg candy sugar from which I get all the possible color ratings in a single batch. You can start with 500 grams and see what suits you the best.

Resources required

  • Table sugar (commonly available in India is Cane sugar which is perfect for inversion)
  • Water (Rule of thumb: For every Kilo of sugar, you need 1cup of water)
  • Acidic medium (Citric acid - available at most grocery stores / Lemon juice - 1 tsp for 500 grams of sugar / Cream of Tartar - available in specialty stores) I use Citric acid that comes in granulated form. Use any of the above.
  • Cooking vessel/pot that can hold the above

The Process

  • Start by taking the required amount of table sugar. Add it to a cooking vessel and add just enough water to wet the sugar. You don't want too much water as it will delay the process of caramelization.
  • Start by heating the vessel at a low flame for the first 5 minutes (or till all the sugar has dissolved). This will prevent uneven distribution of heat. You also have to keep stirring the solution constantly as it will help the sugar dissolve faster.
  • After the sugar has dissolved completely, keep the vessel on medium flame. Add the acidic medium mentioned above and stir. The process till this step takes less than 10 mins.
  • You will now start noticing change in the colour of sugar solution.
    15 mins into boil 
    25 mins into boil
    40 mins into boil
  • Keep boiling till the desired colour rating of Candi Sugar has been achieved.
  • Now you need to raise the temperature to maximum by boiling it on high flame for about 5 mins. This is called 'hard cracking' the sugar.
  • Pour this thick syrup into silicone moulds ( you can also use baking tray lined with aluminium foil). Make sure you have the target vessel well in reach before pouring the hot syrup. It hardens very quickly.
    I use silicone moulds to give a nice shape to the sugar slabs.
  • Allow to rest for 3-4 hours in the fridge.
  • Break it into usable sized pieces (if using the baking tray) or simply remove the sugar slab from its moulds. Store in a zip lock bag and use whenever required.
  • To avoid sticky situations dust the slabs with ground sugar (icing sugar) before storge.
    Dusting it with powdered sugar will help avoid 'sticky situations'.

  • You can also make Candi syrup for bottle storage. Simply add some water after desired colour rating of Candi Sugar has been achieved. Completely cool the syrup before pouring into storage bottles.


At your first attempt you might face a problem that the sugar slab has hardened, but cannot be cracked easily because of it being malleable. The reasons for this 1) Too much water content 2) Hard Crack stage not achieved properly. Next time simply use slightly less water and give more time on Hard Crack phase.

This is the easiest way to make Belgian Candi Sugar. There is plenty of technical data like specific temperatures, specific pH etc.. but you don't need that to be honest. Follow these simple procedures and you'll have the Candi Sugar just within an hour.

Do comment if you have any doubts or queries.

Cheers!

10 comments:

  1. Great Post Proof Am.

    Would you recommend maintaining a the temperature between 160F and 175F during the heating process ?
    Does that make a big difference ?
    I noticed that even on the slowest flame on my gas the temperature would exceed 175F if I don't add a few spoons of water every few mins.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sapan.
      During the heating process, temperature should remain between 260-270F which is about 126 - 132 Celsius

      Specific temperature for Hard crack stage is 300F or about 150 Celsius

      So, your stove on minimum setting is giving you exactly what you want.

      Delete
  2. Super post! Cant try to make my own Belgian Candi Sugar!

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  3. Well then I look forward to the gang making some Dubbels, Tripels and other complex brews. Awesome stuff. Cheers Chaps!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks John, we will soon have a lineup of Belgian Enkel, Dubbel, Trippel and Quadrupel !!

      Delete
  4. Can one use palm sugar or supermarket brown sugar as the starting base instead of cane based table sugar? I gather that Belgian Candi sugar is derived from beet sugar. Also, is it true that supermarket brown sugar is just sugar with added molasses? Is this brown sugar good for making Candi?

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    Replies
    1. The molasses would give a unique flavor to the Candi sugar, I would guess it would darker much quicken and require lesser boil time.
      Try it out.

      Delete
  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. Thanks a lot for the input. Brew on & rock on.

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  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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