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Sugar Density meters (Hydrometers)


Alistair Smyth
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Hi all,

Having recently invested in Oriol Balaguer's 'Dessert Cuisine' book, I now see much need in the ingredients for ""Syrup at 24 B.e." etc.

So obviously I need a Sugar density meter, but before I buy one I'd like to find out how they are used (google didn't really help me).... are they just held in the liquid as you would with a thermometer?

I noticed a 'holder' device sold in many online stores, so I wanted to know if I need that too? does the hydrometer only work when housed vertically in this holder?

Thanks in advance

Al

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Hi all,

Having recently invested in Oriol Balaguer's 'Dessert Cuisine' book, I now see much need in the ingredients for ""Syrup at 24 B.e." etc.

So obviously I need a Sugar density meter, but before I buy one I'd like to find out how they are used (google didn't really help me).... are they just held in the liquid as you would with a thermometer?

I noticed a 'holder' device sold in many online stores, so I wanted to know if I need that too? does the hydrometer only work when housed vertically in this holder?

Thanks in advance

Al

Not sure about desserts, but in beer brewing, you place a sample of the liquid in the tube that stores the hydrometer and read the level at which it floats.

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If you google for hydrometer, the first result is from wikipedia and the first paragraph says --

A hydrometer is an instrument used to measure relative density or specific gravity of liquids. It is usually made of glass and consists of a cylindrical stem and a bulb weighted with mercury or lead shot to make it float upright. The liquid is poured into a tall jar, and the hydrometer is gently lowered into the liquid until it floats freely.
There is even a picture that shows a tall glass tube with the hydrometer floating in a liquid.

Personally, I'd rather use a refractometer as they are easier and less messy to use. You can convert between degrees baume and degrees brix by multiplying by 1.75.

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It shouldn't really be necessary for you to get a refractometer or hydrometer. Normally you can reach the right density by bringing X quantity of sugar to the boil with Y quantity of water. I don't have a table of conversions with me so I can't give you the ratio for the density that you want but I'm sure someone can chime in with that. Off the top of my head I think such a table existed in Bo Friberg's 'Professional Pastrychef'.

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It shouldn't really be necessary for you to get a refractometer or hydrometer. Normally you can reach the right density by bringing X quantity of sugar to the boil with Y quantity of water. I don't have a table of conversions with me so I can't give you the ratio for the density that you want but I'm sure someone can chime in with that. Off the top of my head I think such a table existed in Bo Friberg's 'Professional Pastrychef'.

I just looked and its not in the one I have (1985 vintage)

Bud

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If you google for hydrometer, the first result is from wikipedia and the first paragraph says --
A hydrometer is an instrument used to measure relative density or specific gravity of liquids. It is usually made of glass and consists of a cylindrical stem and a bulb weighted with mercury or lead shot to make it float upright. The liquid is poured into a tall jar, and the hydrometer is gently lowered into the liquid until it floats freely.
There is even a picture that shows a tall glass tube with the hydrometer floating in a liquid.

Personally, I'd rather use a refractometer as they are easier and less messy to use. You can convert between degrees baume and degrees brix by multiplying by 1.75.

and that would certainly be more appropriate to candy than brewing.

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you could hit 24 degrees b approx w/o a hydrometer but you need to weigh your ingredients at the very least.

But after doing the Balaguer thing ( GREAT BOOK!!!) and you start to do your sorbets, etc. , you're going to need the hydrometer or refractometer to hit the right b(s) for texture,etc.

I got rid of my little vessel thing some time ago and just adjust my mix right in my cambro or whatever I might be using, reading my degrees as I go.

I would go with the refracto just to avoid the breakage and replacements.

Good Luck!

2317/5000

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It shouldn't really be necessary for you to get a refractometer or hydrometer. Normally you can reach the right density by bringing X quantity of sugar to the boil with Y quantity of water.

http://www.baking911.com/candy/chart.htm

I don't have any experience with trying to achieve a certain syrup density by using a ratio of sugar to water. I'm not sure how that would work since you would be boiling the water to dissolve the sugar and would thus be losing water to evaporation. Seems too imprecise to me.

If you're strictly talking about sugar syrups though, you do not need a hydrometer or refractometer. There are several ways to judge the sugar density of a boiling syrup, such as by sight (how the bubbles look), by feel (dropping it into water and feeling the result), and by temperature (most accurate).

A hydrometer or refractometer is used when you are trying to measure the specific density of a solution such as a sorbet base.

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Hi all,

Having recently invested in Oriol Balaguer's 'Dessert Cuisine' book, I now see much need in the ingredients for ""Syrup at 24 B.e." etc.

So obviously I need a Sugar density meter, but before I buy one I'd like to find out how they are used (google didn't really help me).... are they just held in the liquid as you would with a thermometer?

I noticed a 'holder' device sold in many online stores, so I wanted to know if I need that too? does the hydrometer only work when housed vertically in this holder?

Thanks in advance

Al

If you are not going to be making random sugar solutions on a daily basis, just go and buy a book like 'the Professional Pastry Chef", the book is a great reference and containg charts for suagr densities, the scales are accurate, just do not boil your syrup or you will no longer have an accurate ratio.

Hydrometers are cheap, and well worth the investment, allbeit a little 'old school'.

Refractometers, however are deadly accurate, and much more 'modern', although you will need to buy one for low range density (sorbets and syrups) and an additional for high density (if you do pate de fruits, jellies, jams, etc) and the cheaper ones are about $150 or so last time I checked. However, if you want to check and measure these products when they are hot, like in the case of a pate de fruit (since checking it when its cool is a bit too late and irreversible) you will want to get a refractometer that is made for 'high temperature' use, mine cost me $320 and $365 (low density/high density). A big investment, but they should last a lifetime. I've used the same Hydrometer for the last 10 years!

If you will seemingly be doing this on a daily basis, first learn the base scales (in grams) and buy a hydrometer. If you actually seem to be doing this on a regular basis then spend the $$$cash on a refractometer....

In the meantime, 24* b is 340 grams of sucrose dissolved by 500ml water. Do not boil, but completely dissolve.

Hope that helps...

-CW

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  • 11 months later...

I am looking to get a refractometer to improve my sorbets. I have noticed some on eBay which seem to be very good deals, and was just wondering if anyone has any experience with THESE -or can tell if this sort would work out ok for me. The 2 scales seem useful, as I do make jellies and jams on occasion. I am an experienced pastry chef, and pretty good at keeping my tools clean, safe and in working order. I also have experience using other scientific test equipment, including microscopic equipment.

I know that I need a refractometer to take my work to a better, more uniform standard. I have taken master level classes in sorbets and gelatos and understand the mathematics involved in formulating them. -I'm just so tempted by the price, it's less than half the price of the ones I have seen elsewhere.

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  • 7 months later...
  • 1 year later...

I just picked up a hydrometer.

Anyone know where I can find a temperature correction chart for this thing? It's calibrated at 60 deg F/60 deg F

I've found some stuff from saltwater aquarium hobbyists, but it's not really doing the trick.

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If you google for hydrometer, the first result is from

Personally, I'd rather use a refractometer as they are easier and less messy to use. You can convert between degrees baume and degrees brix by multiplying by 1.75.

and that would certainly be more appropriate to candy than brewing.

I use both when brewing. Whenever possible, I reach for the refractometer -- it is more accurate and easier to use. But it isn't accurate when measuring liquid that is in the process (or near the end) of fermenting. While there are fudge factors for refractometers when measuring the finishing gravities of beer and wine -- at that point it's easier to break out the hydrometer.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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I just picked up a hydrometer.

Anyone know where I can find a temperature correction chart for this thing? It's calibrated at 60 deg F/60 deg F

I've found some stuff from saltwater aquarium hobbyists, but it's not really doing the trick.

Does this work for you?

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