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Instead of corn syrup, use this DIY replacement

Looking for a homemade, natural alternative to corn syrup? This is it, using organic, non-GMO cane sugar.

Corn syrup (not to be confused with high-fructose corn syrup, which is a different beast) appears in myriad baking and dessert recipes for texture and flavor. But what if you want a non-glucose, non-GMO alternative?

Chef Matt Gordon, chef at San Diego’s Urban Solace and a champion of zero tolerance for artificial ingredients in restaurants and bars, provides this DIY corn syrup replacement made with real cane sugar. Like all sweeteners, use in moderation.

Corn Syrup Replacement

Yields 1 quart

1 quart white organic cane sugar (may be made with unrefined cane sugar but will yield a darker result)

1½  cups water

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

Candy thermometer

1. Combine all ingredients in a pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover for 3 minutes to get sugar crystals off the sides of the pan. Uncover and cook, stirring often, until it reaches softball stage (between 235 and 240 degrees on a candy thermometer). Cool and store at room temperature for up to 2 months. For dark corn syrup, add ½ cup of molasses to the above recipe.

How do you reduce processed sugar when you bake? Share your ideas in the comments below!

Discuss this Blog Entry 5

Chef Art (not verified)
on Jul 31, 2012

sugar is bad for you in any form! switch to stevia for a sweetener

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 2, 2012

Sugar is not "bad for you in any form".

on Aug 8, 2012

This is "invert sugar." I love the idea of DIY invert sugar, but the introduction to the recipe includes major misinformation.

It's incorrect to call it "non-glucose" (what's the benefit of that, anyway?), because the finished product is equal parts free glucose and fructose plus any of the original sucrose that didn't break down. Chemically-speaking, it's actually more similar to HFCS than plain corn syrup since HFCS is close to 50/50 glucose/fructose, whereas plain corn syrup is 100% glucose. (In the UK, plain corn syrup, along with wheat syrup, is called "glucose syrup." Perhaps that's where the impulse to describe it as "non-glucose" came from - to mean "non-corn syrup"?)

People are so confused about sugars. I can kind of understand the frustration the Corn Refiners Association must feel! However, I think our emphasis on the chemistry and nutrition of sugars is misplaced. Let's focus instead on the source of the sugar and the processing required to produce it. Much more down-to-earth and easier to explain.

I do wish more manufacturers used invert cane sugar instead of corn syrup and the other highly processed starch-derived sugars. I assume cost is the main reason we don't see invert sugar more often on ingredients lists. European products seem to use it a little more frequently.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 12, 2012

Thanks for the recipe. Some recipes won't work without corn syrup (such as marshmallows) and I am allergic to corn. I will try this.

on Jun 16, 2015

I, too, am allergic to corn and have recipes (like marshmallows) that say they only work with corn syrup. Some science thing. I hope this substitution works.

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