Take the 2-minute tour ×
Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I tried several times to cook the glaze for a strawberry glaze pie and the sugar, water, and cornstarch would thicken but then the sugar would turn grainy. I have also tried to boil water, sugar, and butter to make a carmel type sauce to pour over corn curls and it thickens and seems to be fine but then turns grainy right after I take it off the stove.

share|improve this question
add comment

1 Answer

It sounds like your syrups are crystallizing on you.

For a smooth glaze or caramel, you want tiny little sugar crystals. When you heat your sugar and water mixture, after a certain temperature the water becomes super-saturated with the sugar.

After this super-saturation point, things get dicey. If the solution is disturbed--say by stirring, or an undissolved sugar crystal or other foreign particle getting into the solution--the sugar can rapidly come out of solution and form big crystals. This could be why your confections are grainy.

There are a lot of resources online that have the science behind it and suggestions on preventing it (example, example, example). To summarize a few:

  • Always use a clean pot or pan.
  • Make sure the sugar is completely dissolved before it comes to a boil
  • Dip a pastry brush in water to wash away any sugar that sticks to the side of the pot or pan as the sugar heats.
  • Combine the sugar with a little water (it should have the consistency of wet sand) before cooking.
  • Avoid stirring the sugar when it comes to a simmer.
  • Cover the pan loosely with a lid or baking sheet.
  • Add a little acid (such as a touch of lemon juice) or corn syrup to the sugar-water mixture before cooking
share|improve this answer
1  
I second the corn syrup tip. It can be a life saver when doing any work with sugar syrups. –  Brendan Dec 6 '12 at 20:05
    
I've not heard of using acid in sugar work. I'm guessing it breaks some of the glucose into sucrose and fructose. –  Chris Dec 6 '12 at 20:24
    
Downvoter mind commenting so we can improve the answer? –  JoeFish Dec 18 '12 at 0:40
    
I've been doing some candy work for Christmas, and both recipes I used called for acid (cream of tarter). So my guess was correct. –  Chris Dec 20 '12 at 19:34
    
I just noticed in my history that apparently I was the downvoter...but I have no memory of it, and looking at this now I have no idea why I thought this was objectionable. Maybe a slip of the mouse, or maybe I was drunk. If you'd like to edit the question, I'd be happy to remove my downvote. –  mikeTheLiar Feb 6 '13 at 20:04
show 1 more comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.