For a very long time, I associated syrups merely to the pharmaceutical world (OK, besides the popolar mint syrup used to prepare refreshing drinks ;)). A bell rang though, when I read the definition of syrups in my course of Pharmaceutical Technologies:
Oh well, it makes sense…eventually, a syrup is a well-concentrated solution of sugars. Just thinking back to the famous mint and cherry syrups, I started to find a long into that.
It took me a while though to find that syrups are widely used in confectionary. Not to mention that they are often used as an alternative to the common sucrose to make gelato, popsicles, meringues…
In confectionery, syrups follow to classifications:
DE (dextrose equivalent)
It represents the % of glucose (dextrose) in the syrup. For example, a syrup with DE 50 contains 50% of glucose. This classification is used for the glucose syrups prepared by acid hydrolysis of starches. Simply, the long chains of starches are broken into their components, glucose molecules. As the hydrolysis proceeds, more glucose is released from the starches and DE increases.
This classification is used for syrups prepared with the common table sugar and represents the % of sucrose in the solution. A syrups at 60 Brix degrees contains 60% of sucrose (60 g of sucrose in 100 g of solution).
Using syrups has advantages as the sugars are already in solution. We do not have to wait for them to dissolve and that speeds up the preparation of products as ice creams, gelati, granite, popsicles and meringues.
The most common syrups employed in confectionary are at 60-70 Brix degrees. However, syrups at lower degrees (30-40 Brix) may be preferred for the preparation of popsicles and granite. Despite some common belief, sugar is not only a sweetener, but has also a structural role. Indeed, sugar makes the final product more crunchy and sandy. Therefore, syrups at lower Brix degrees are preferred in the preparation of popsicles to keep the product compact.
If you want to use syrups in your recipes, keep in mind that their sweetening power is inferior compared to the one of pure table sugar, as you are dealing with a solution at 60-70%. Furthermore, you will add a % of water, which will lead to a more liquid product.
Leonardo di Carlo, Tradizione in evoluzione, Chiriotti editore