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Corn Syrup Facts

Corn Syrup Facts

High fructose corn syrup is a hot topic of discussion among fitness buffs these days. There is a lot written and said about it. Here's an article on corn syrup facts. Read on...
Amruta Deshpande
Corn syrup is found in scores of common foods and beverages these days. It is used to soften the texture of certain foods, or as a thickener to add volume. It tastes sweet like granulated sugar and is often used as a sweetener in many foods and drinks. Corn syrup prevents crystallization of the sugar and enhances the flavor. Sometimes, corn syrup is also used as a humectant or a preservative, as it retains the moisture and maintains the food's freshness.

Corn Syrup
Corn syrup is obtained from corn by the process of hydrolysis. The hydrolysis reaction takes place by the action of enzymes, alpha amylase and gluco-amylase, on a mixture of cornstarch and water. These enzymes break down the cornstarch into smaller compounds and ultimately into glucose. The resulting syrup is honey like in texture and has a sweet taste. The sweetness and the texture or viscosity of the syrup depends upon the extent to which the reaction is carried out. If the corn syrup is concentrated further to contain less than 10 percent water, it is termed as corn syrup solids and is also used in many foods as a sweetener.

High Fructose Corn Syrup
High fructose corn syrup is the most prominent type of commercial corn syrups. It is obtained by converting the glucose in the corn syrup to fructose by enzymatic procedure. The resulting thick syrup is thus a mixture of glucose and fructose. High fructose corn syrup is sweeter than the normal corn syrup containing glucose.
  • High fructose corn syrup is made from cornstarch, by a process of converting the glucose into fructose with the help of an enzyme glucose-isomerase.
  • It consists of about 55 % fructose and the rest are other sugars, mainly glucose.
  • Corn syrup entered the industrial market and began replacing sugar as a sweetener in foods and drinks by mid 1970.
  • High fructose corn syrup contains about 4 calories per gram, almost the same as table sugar.
  • High fructose corn syrup reduces water activity and inhibits microbial spoilage of foods.
  • The glucose to fructose ratio, or the saccharide composition, of high fructose corn syrup is almost the same as that of honey and invert sugar.
How to Make Corn Syrup
Is it possible to make corn syrup at home? Well, corn syrup requires an enzymatic reaction and cannot be made in the kitchen, however, you can go for corn syrup substitute, which can be made easily whenever you need it. It will be free of any harmful additives and also fresh and tasty. Here is how to go about it.

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tarter

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan, and bring to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove the lid and let it simmer for sometime, until it reaches the soft ball stage. You can test it by dropping it in a glass of water. If the drop reaches the bottom without easily mixing with the water, your homemade corn syrup substitute is ready. Cool it and store it at room temperature. It can be stored for about two months.

Some studies show that there are adverse effects associated with the use of corn syrup. So, those who are uneasy about the high fructose corn syrup health risks, should stay away from it!