Granular detail: invert sugar

May 16 2019

This week, we explore everything there is to know about invert sugar. From its usage to storage, this guide will help you with your next sugar product purchase.

What is invert sugar?

The building block of invert sugar is ordinary table sugar, known as sucrose. Sucrose is a disaccharide, meaning it is composed of two different individual sugar molecules joined together, which in this instance are glucose and fructose. In order to produce invert sugar, these bonds must be broken.

Taking the production of Eastick’s golden syrup as an example, we can see how this is achieved:

– Firstly, sucrose is heated with water in inversion pans, resulting in 64% of the total sugar needed for the final product being present and the syrup reaching a pH of between 1 and 1.6

–  Once all the sugar crystals are dissolved and the temperature is over 70 degrees, the sucrose will invert into glucose and fructose

– After the desired ratio of sucrose to fructose is achieved alongside a polarisation of -14, the syrup is neutralised with a natural alkaline agent

– Following this, the syrup is caramalised using heat and time and the remaining 36% of sugar is added

– After this has dissolved, the brix, density of sucrose in a solution, will be a maximum of 83% and the polarisation is +20

– An alkaline powder is then added to bind the non-sugar particles and the syrup is passed through a plate and frame filter press for maximum purity

– Finally, the syrup is stored in maturation tanks before being passed through a final filter and sent to our customers.

Invert sugar, which also has the same sugar structure as honey, gets its name from the polarisation aspect of the above process. When light is shined through sucrose, it is reflected at a specific angle. Repeat the process with invert sugar, and you will find that the light is rotated in the opposite direction, and, is therefore inverted. Due to this, the name Ragus, ‘sugar’ backwards, was chosen.

What products is invert sugar used in?

Invert sugar is used in a diverse range of food and beverages, including ice cream, sorbets, fondants, soft drinks, baked goods and cough syrups. As well as helping develop flavour, invert sugar also serves a functional role in these products. For example, its ability to retain moisture leads to a longer shelf life for baked goods and the way it depresses the freezing point of ice creams and sorbets makes them easier to scoop.

In addition, invert sugar also makes products more resistant to microbial spoilage, further extending their shelf life and keeping them fresher for longer. As it also reduces sugar crystallisation, it can leave products with a smoother, softer texture. For soft drinks, its ability to easily dissolve in cold liquids means it is preferable to sucrose as a sweetener.

At Ragus Pure Sugars, we supply invert sugar for use in the above application in two forms: full invert syrup and partial invert syrup. Full invert syrup is a mixture of 95% invert sugar to 5% sucrose, resulting in a sweetness value that is around 40% greater than sucrose. Partial invert syrup, such as Eastick’s golden syrup, is a combination of 44% sucrose with 56% invert sugar, leaving a sweetness value that is only 20% greater than straight sucrose.

What advice do Ragus Pure Sugars give clients when buying invert sugar?

When approached by a client looking to purchase invert sugars, we make sure to ask three questions. Firstly, what is their potential usage per month; secondly, what pack size do they require, with this usually being a 25kg pail, an intermediate bulk container or a bulk tanker; thirdly, what are the ambient conditions of where the sugar will be stored. Asking these questions is crucial to determining which type of invert would be best suited to the client’s needs.

Full inverts act in the same way as honey, meaning they could potentially begin to crystallise in cold temperatures after just four weeks of storage. Partial inverts, however, are like golden syrup, and could therefore last for years if stored in the correct conditions.

Any invert sugar going into storage, particularly full inverts in bulk tanks, must be stored in a trace heated tank in order to prevent pockets of crystals forming. These crystals can quickly multiply in a matter of months, resulting in solid sugar crystals at the bottom of a storage tank. As a result, it is crucial to establish these exact customer requirements before recommending an invert sugar for their application, particularly given the differences that can occur between access to factory locations, production lines and warehouse storage temperatures.

Do you need invert sugar for your application? Contact Ragus Pure Sugars now to benefit from our near century of expertise and excellence.

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