Lower sugars and syrups


Lower sugars have smaller molecules than sucrose. They are mostly known as monosaccharides (e.g. one unit of dextrose or fructose) with reducing properties in chemical reactions. During baking the reactions with proteins in the dough give attractive brown surface colouration (this very complex process is known as the Maillard reaction). Lower sugars are normally derived from sucrose or from a starch (which has very large molecules made up of multiple units of dextrose) by a process which splits the molecules into individual units. This process is called hydrolysis.

The most commonly used lower sugar is dextrose (dextrose monohydrate). Another lower sugar is fructose which is similar to dextrose but is much sweeter. (Fructose is a sugar that can be eaten safely by persons suffering from diabetes.)

Maltodextrin is a mixture of partially hydrolysed molecules of starch. It has a low sweetness but is readily soluble.

These lower sugars are available as powders but are often used in the biscuit industry in the form of syrups (collectively known as glucose syrups).

Syrups derived from starch

All these syrups usually have 70% solids and 30% water.

  • Glucose syrups, 42DE, 63DE, 90DE etc. At ambient temperatures glucose syrups are very thick syrups due to the presence of large molecules such as dextrins which are partially hydrolysed starch. Glucose syrups are generally not so sweet as sucrose syrups. The term DE (dextrose equivalent) is used to indicate the apparent concentration of dextrose, or other reducing sugars, and hence the sweetness and reducing power. Thus DE42 indicates that the syrup as a similar performance to a 42% solution of dextrose.
  • High fructose corn syrup, (HFCS) This is a type of glucose syrup. The hydrolysis of starch has been achieved with special enzymes that favour the production of fructose rather than dextrose. The concentration of fructose in relation to other sugars is in the range 40-90%. This means that the syrup is much sweeter in taste than a dextrose rich glucose syrup.