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Bourbon Syrup and Crystallization


Kim Shook
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I make bourbon syrup every Christmas to pour on top of sweet potatoes. It has always worked just fine. But this time it crystallized and is hard instead of syrupy. Here is the recipe that I use: Bourbon Syrup.

Any ideas what I did wrong this time and how I can do it right? Also, I assume that I can't do anything about the solid mass of bourbon rock candy that I have in a narrow necked pitcher :angry::rolleyes: . Thanks, Kim

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1 part sugar to 1 part water is fairly safe in terms of crystallization, but 2 parts sugar to 1 part liquid is a recipe for disaster, especially without special instructions. This recipe desperately needs a crystallization inhibitor. Swap out some of the sugar (maybe 3/4 part) with corn syrup. That should help.

As far as the syrup you have goes. Hopefully it's in a glass jar. Place the jar in a sauce pan with warm water and heat slowly. Eventually the syrup will liquefy. Add some corn syrup and a little more bourbon.

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I make bourbon syrup every Christmas to pour on top of sweet potatoes.  It has always worked just fine.  But this time it crystallized and is hard instead of syrupy.  Here is the recipe that I use:  Bourbon Syrup.

Any ideas what I did wrong this time and how I can do it right?  Also, I assume that I can't do anything about the solid mass of bourbon rock candy that I have in a narrow necked pitcher  :angry:  :rolleyes: .  Thanks, Kim

Apparently some of the sugar was on the side of the pan and got into the solution. Next time leave the lid on until the sugar is dissolve. The condensation in the pot will wash the sides. You can also add a couple of tsp of white Karo. It will mitigate crystallization. When I make sugar syrups always add the Karo.

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I third the recommendation for corn syrup, but if you don't have that, you can add a little but of lemon juice (or another acid) at the beginning, which also will inhibit crystallization.

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

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1 part sugar to 1 part water is fairly safe in terms of crystallization, but 2 parts sugar to 1 part liquid is a recipe for disaster, especially without special instructions. This recipe desperately needs a crystallization inhibitor.  Swap out some of the sugar (maybe 3/4 part) with corn syrup. That should help.

As far as the syrup you have goes. Hopefully it's in a glass jar. Place the jar in a sauce pan with warm water and heat slowly. Eventually the syrup will liquefy.  Add some corn syrup and a little more bourbon.

I regularly make 4:1 sugar syrup to use for adding to sorbets and in cocktails etc. I've never noticed it crystalise and it keeps stable at room temp for many weeks.

PS: I am a guy.

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1 part sugar to 1 part water is fairly safe in terms of crystallization, but 2 parts sugar to 1 part liquid is a recipe for disaster, especially without special instructions. This recipe desperately needs a crystallization inhibitor.  Swap out some of the sugar (maybe 3/4 part) with corn syrup. That should help.

As far as the syrup you have goes. Hopefully it's in a glass jar. Place the jar in a sauce pan with warm water and heat slowly. Eventually the syrup will liquefy.  Add some corn syrup and a little more bourbon.

Scott and everyone else - thanks for your help. I was able to fix the problem and the syrup is fine. It was in a plastic pitcher and so I crunched it up with a butter knife, put it back in a saucepan, added some more bourbon and some dark corn syrup and slowly brought it to a boil. It is nice and bourbon-y and syrupy now! I really appreciate it - I really don't like doing things over and over again and you saved me some much needed gift wrapping time.

Kim

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1 part sugar to 1 part water is fairly safe in terms of crystallization, but 2 parts sugar to 1 part liquid is a recipe for disaster, especially without special instructions. This recipe desperately needs a crystallization inhibitor.  Swap out some of the sugar (maybe 3/4 part) with corn syrup. That should help.

As far as the syrup you have goes. Hopefully it's in a glass jar. Place the jar in a sauce pan with warm water and heat slowly. Eventually the syrup will liquefy.  Add some corn syrup and a little more bourbon.

I regularly make 4:1 sugar syrup to use for adding to sorbets and in cocktails etc. I've never noticed it crystalise and it keeps stable at room temp for many weeks.

4 parts sugar to 1 part water- no other ingredients? Really? Regular old Domino type sugar? Tap water?

Are you using distilled water? One would think that even with the most careful treatment (perfectly clean saucepan, no stirring, brushing down sides) the dissolved solids in tap water would provide more than enough nuclei to foster crystallization in a sugar solution of that concentration.

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1.5L plastic measuring cup. I fill it with 3.5 cups of regular white sugar and then just enough tap water to wet the sugar and cover it up to 4 cups. Put it in the microwave on high until the entire this is dissolved and boiling and then decant it into a 1L bottle. Never had a problem with crystalisation.

PS: I am a guy.

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1.5L plastic measuring cup. I fill it with 3.5 cups of regular white sugar and then just enough tap water to wet the sugar and cover it up to 4 cups. Put it in the microwave on high until the entire this is dissolved and boiling and then decant it into a 1L bottle. Never had a problem with crystalisation.

Hmmm... well the first thing I noticed is that your ratio isn't 4:1. It depends on the granular size of the sugar and the temp of the water, but I'd say you're adding at least 1 1/2 cups water to the sugar, possibly even 2. The next time you make it, measure the water and you'll see.

That range of water puts you closer to a 2:1 ratio, not a 4:1 ratio. If you did make a 4:1 syrup, it would be a crystal fest at room temp, trust me.

Now, as far as being able to consistently produce a 2:1 syrup that doesn't crystallize at room temp... that's a bit of mystery to me. Maybe microwaving has some impact on the process.

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1.5L plastic measuring cup. I fill it with 3.5 cups of regular white sugar and then just enough tap water to wet the sugar and cover it up to 4 cups. Put it in the microwave on high until the entire this is dissolved and boiling and then decant it into a 1L bottle. Never had a problem with crystalisation.

Hmmm... well the first thing I noticed is that your ratio isn't 4:1. It depends on the granular size of the sugar and the temp of the water, but I'd say you're adding at least 1 1/2 cups water to the sugar, possibly even 2. The next time you make it, measure the water and you'll see.

That range of water puts you closer to a 2:1 ratio, not a 4:1 ratio. If you did make a 4:1 syrup, it would be a crystal fest at room temp, trust me.

Now, as far as being able to consistently produce a 2:1 syrup that doesn't crystallize at room temp... that's a bit of mystery to me. Maybe microwaving has some impact on the process.

I think it's a matter of getting it boiled long enough for all the sugar to dissolve, putting it into a clean glass container when hot so there is no nucleation sites and not disturbing it as it cools.

I remember that I did measure it one time because I wanted to know how to sub it for simple syrup and it was roughly a 4:1 mix.

PS: I am a guy.

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1.5L plastic measuring cup. I fill it with 3.5 cups of regular white sugar and then just enough tap water to wet the sugar and cover it up to 4 cups. Put it in the microwave on high until the entire this is dissolved and boiling and then decant it into a 1L bottle. Never had a problem with crystalisation.

Hmmm... well the first thing I noticed is that your ratio isn't 4:1. It depends on the granular size of the sugar and the temp of the water, but I'd say you're adding at least 1 1/2 cups water to the sugar, possibly even 2. The next time you make it, measure the water and you'll see.

That range of water puts you closer to a 2:1 ratio, not a 4:1 ratio. If you did make a 4:1 syrup, it would be a crystal fest at room temp, trust me.

Now, as far as being able to consistently produce a 2:1 syrup that doesn't crystallize at room temp... that's a bit of mystery to me. Maybe microwaving has some impact on the process.

I think it's a matter of getting it boiled long enough for all the sugar to dissolve, putting it into a clean glass container when hot so there is no nucleation sites and not disturbing it as it cools.

I remember that I did measure it one time because I wanted to know how to sub it for simple syrup and it was roughly a 4:1 mix.

I just took a few minutes and performed an impromptu experiment.

1 cup sugar + 1/2 c. cool tap water = 1 C. volume

That would make your syrup 3.5 cups sugar to 2.25 cups water - a 1.5:1 ratio.

My sugar was in a narrow mouthed bottle. I poured it into the cup rather than scooped, so my measurement might be a bit light, but it's not that off. You're definitely working with at the most a 2:1 syrup- no more sugar than that.

The clean glass jar/undisturbed cooling is a good idea. I'll have to give that a shot.

Edited by scott123 (log)
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