Inverted Sugar

Inverted sugar (also called invert sugar) is a syrup that is made that up of glucose and fructose. 

It is sweeter than ordinary sugar and it is less inclined to crystallize. It has a slightly different taste and is very useful in certain types of cooking and food processing. It is made from beet or cane sugar that is broken down into its component parts glucose and fructose.

It can be produced at home by simply boiling a mixture of sugar and water in a saucepan, with a little cream of tartar. During the process of jam making much of the sugar is converted to inverted sugar because of the heat, moisture and acid present in the mix. It is excellent for cooking and for certain recipes. The soft center in Cadbury's creme eggs is made using inverted sugar.

Not used as a sweetener at home. However to food industry make extensive use of it. It is hygroscopic (it absorbs moisture from the surrounding environment) and consequently it adds to shelf life of product and helps to prevent foods from drying out. A small amount mixed with sugar helps prevent crystallization of the product over time. It is used to produce the required consistency in the soft center of candies and chocolates. Marzipan and liqueurs.

Pastry chefs use it in the preparation of ganaches where it helps to achieve the required smoothness, and to provide excellent 'mouth feel'.

A typical composition of syrup available commercially would be:

Sugar Percentage
Fructose 37.5%
Glucose 37.5%
Sucrose 2.5%
Water 22.4%
Ash 0.1%


It is sweeter than ordinary sugar and provides texture to processed foods. It also helps preserve foods longer.  

It has all of the same problems as sugar, i.e. tooth decay, diabetes, and obesity. It should be counted as part of the daily intake of refined sugar. In addition all the fructose is unbound and may be slightly more detrimental to health for this reason. It is quite similar to High Fructose Corn Syrup, except it is made from cane or beet, and contains somewhat less fructose. (About 37.5% as opposed to 55% in HFCS.)

No actual limit for ADI (acceptable daily intake) is set for inverted sugar. However, using ordinary sugar as a guideline, the World Health Organization recommend no more that 10% of calories equal to about 50g (about 12 teaspoons) per day.

CSPI (US) Recommendation

The recommendation issued by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (US) for this substance is - CUT BACK

To produce it, water is added to sucrose and the mixture heated. The process can be speeded up by adding a small amount of acid, for example citric acid. The sucrose is then broken down into its component parts glucose and fructose. Unlike high fructose corn syrup it is made from sugar cane or sugar beet, not corn. It is also more expensive than high fructose corn syrup.

Sold As:
Not usually sold on its own. Can be produced at home.

How Expensive?
The process to convert ordinary sugar to invert sugar is inexpensive so the cost is only slightly more.

Mix 1kg sugar with half litre water and 1gm of cream of tartar. Boil until the mixture thickens then remove from  the heat. The addition of half a gram of baking soda at the end of the process, if required, will neutralize the acid taste of the tartar.

Interesting facts:
When polarized light is passed through a sucrose solution it is rotated to the right. This is also the case if it is passed through a glucose solution (dextrose - rotate right). On the other hand a fructose solution will rotate polarized light to the left. The left rotation of fructose is greater than the right rotation of glucose. So an invert sugar solution will rotate polarized light to the left. This is how it derives its name. This test can be used to determine the presence of different types of sugar in a syrup solution. (For example it could be used to determine of honey had been 'cut' with sugar.) Interestingly most of the sugar in honey is inverted sugar, so the test will be useless if sugar has been cut using this as a sweetener. The same applies to high fructose corn syrup. Best to get your honey from a reputable source!

Does not require approval.


Conclusions for Inverted Sugar

Inverted sugar can add flavor and texture to food. Very useful for cooking and for professional chefs. Used extensively in the food industry to control texture and improve shelf life. However it is just another form of sugar, and is quite similar to high fructose corn syrup, except it is made from cane or beet. Care needs to be taken to avoid excessive consumption. Not suitable for diabetics.

Name Calories / Gram Sweetness Index Glycemic Index Calories / Spoon-Equiv
Inverted Sugar 4 1.2 60 14

Taste: -------- Good
Aftertaste: ---- No.
Concerns: ----- Yes.

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