Crystals vs Sugar vs Caramelization

Crystals vs Sugar vs Caramelization

Continuing our conversation about sugar, now that we understand a little bit of most existing sugar and its peculiarities, we need to understand how it works. The first thing we need to understand is about the crystallization of honey, so the rest is easier! Honey consists of two sugars: glucose and fructose, in addition to mining salts and water. Water … that’s the reason for all crystallization !!! Every crystallization process will always depend on the amount of water, glucose and temperature. Let’s imagine glucose as a super shy molecule, which doesn’t like to socialize and has a tendency to always separate itself from the rest of the solution and form crystals. Depending on the amount of water available, this separation will be faster, and if the temperature is too low, the phenomenon is accelerated.
The second little thing that we need to understand now is about the caramelization! Caramel is basically a sugar [qualquer um] that suffered a thermal degradation, that is, melted by the action of a heat source. The sugar molecule – or sucrose – when heated undergoes a succession of decompositions, forming compounds that will dissolve in the syrup, giving the characteristic flavor and color of caramel. This caramel is used as a color and flavoring in the industry. Depending on their color and the salts and acids used, we obtain light toffees, used as flavorings, and dark toffees, used as dyes.
Now, the crystallization! Crystallization is a separation process, as I said in the explanation of honey. If we start from our basic sugar syrup mixture – water and refined sugar – we create a solution that, with the right thermodynamic conditions, will be responsible for bringing the molecules together and helping them and grouping them into crystal structures. Depending on the amount of sugar in relation to the amount of water, crystallization will be easier to occur. But the main point for our rich syrups to crystallize is agitation – yes! You know that tip that every confectioner gives, not to touch the syrup while it caramelizes? Yes, they are right; because with the stirring of the mixture, we help the approximation and the shock between the water and sucrose molecules favoring their approximation and consequent formation of crystals. This crystallization is what happens with the brigadeiro – we stir constantly a mass of sugar at a high temperature. What occurs in this process are two phenomena:

  1. Caramelization of sugar [e a evaporação de água]
  2. Agitation + thermodynamic conditions that will form the sugar crystals. Therefore, avoiding sugar crystallization is almost impossible.

When we add other ingredients – and de-characterize the original brigadeiro recipe – what happens is that we are modifying the recipe’s saturation index, making it more “soluble” and disadvantaging as soon as the molecules can get together. So now when making the sugar syrup you, if you have problems with it again, you can think of two things: 1. I messed with the syrup and I was to blame for crystallizing it or 2. My water and sugar ratio is wrong.
Finally, I would like to thank the ICKFD readers who help us and a lot with their doubts. Without you, that text would not have appeared! I hope I have solved the doubts of most of the people who asked me to talk a little bit about sugar and who still has some other “flea behind the ear”, leave it in the comments, I will be happy to help! A kiss, even and already for the kitchen to make pudding with caramel sauce – and without making mistakes huh ?!

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