Making your own Belgian candi sugar

Post #1 made 4 years ago
For those brewing Trappist Ales with recipes that call for Belgian candi sugar, here's a link for good directions on how to make your own: ... -sugar-ii/ updated url

It includes DME and Calcium hydroxide in order to employ the Maillard reaction, not just pyrolysis of monosaccharides derived from inversion under acidic conditions from cream of tartar or citric acid (essentially no amino acids present).

I did it and it is a bit of a PITA, standing at the stove without interruption for ~1 hour. It was my first experience with sugar at elevated temperatures and it worked, but my product could have been darker. Mine was the color of a typical caramel candy. Next time there will be a bit more lye added above 140 ºC and heated a few minutes longer at 145 ºC before topping out at 150 ºC for 1 minute.

Wear safety glasses and add water in not more than 2 milliliter portions, not by the tablespoon - it spits hot sugar when water hits the mix. I had to order slaked lime (calcium hydroxide) on line as no local shops stocked it. Ca(OH)2 is more soluble at lower temps than warm. Make your saturated solution cold and decant off the liquid into your spoon (over another bowl to catch any drips, it is caustic). Again, add it to the hot mix in small portions. I stirred and scraped the sides vigilantly with a silicone spatula. Initial foaming doubles the volume, make sure it will stay in the pot. For quicker response, move the pot off the heat rather than turning the heat down.
Last edited by ShorePoints on 29 Aug 2019, 07:57, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Making your own Belgian candi sugar

Post #3 made 4 years ago
Thanks, Pat, but I’m certain there are better chemists out there. I am retired for almost a decade and brewing beer is the most lab-like legal activity I have found. More so than my other interest, baking sourdough bread (grains, yeast, water, salt, no hops).

I did the Belgian sugar prep because I was confident that it was like working in the chemistry lab. Some might say, “Why bother? You can buy it.” Same goes for beer, folks. If you brew, then you know how to be careful enough while managing the heat source and hot liquors and you intuitively know that additions and transfers are important; BIAB keeps it simple.

I try to use terms that are common enough that a regular dictionary should suffice, if needed. Sugar chemistry is not my speciality but with lots of talk about high fructose corn syrup in soft drinks, we can learn about sucrose, glucose and fructose and others in the brewing process. You don’t need to be able to push arrows describing the mechanism in a Maillard reaction, just know what ingredients are involved and that pH, temp & time work in concert. Think of Chemistry as a foreign language - everybody knows a few words* of several languages.

As Pat shares his knowledge of brewing and software on this forum, we all learn something.

* I still forget the difference between git and prat, but I have heard the words - although never in Connecticut.
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