If you’re looking in to making strong Belgian beers there’s a chance you’ve seen “Belgian Candi Sugar” in a recipe. You may ask yourself, “What the heck is that?” The quick answer is that it’s an inverted sugar that can raise your gravity and ABV. You can get away with dumping the same amount of table sugar into your recipe, but that’s not how the monks did it, right?
Belgian candi sugar can go for about $6 – $9 a pound online or at your LHBS. OR you can make it at home for pennies (seriously). It turns about to be about $.60 a pound. Not too bad. I’m making a two pound batch for a Belgian strong ale I’ll be making in a few months. Here’s what I used
- 2 lbs table sugar
- 1 cup of water (to start)
- 1/4 tsp of Cream of Tartar
- 3qt sauce pot
- candy thermometer
- 1/4 teaspoon
- cookie sheet
- parchment paper
- Non-stick spatula
- Mix the sugar and water in the pot with a spatula. It will be a bit muddy, but make sure to mix it good.
- Attach thermometer to pot and turn on the heat. Medium high is fine.
- Add the acid and mix. In this case it’s cream of tartar. I’ve read 1/2 a lemon works too.
- Get another cup of cold water ready with your tablespoon. At the same time, line your cookie sheet with parchment paper. You’ll have little time to prepare it later on.
- As the temperature approaches 265 degrees get ready to sit and watch the thermometer. The temp in the pot will rise as the water gets boiled off. When you reach about 270, add a tablespoon or two of water into the pot. Try to spread it around the pot.
- You’ll want to keep the temp between 265 and 270 degrees. To achieve an amber colored candi you’ll have to control the temp for about 20 minutes. If you want a darker candi, keep that going for longer.
- After you’ve reached your desired color (it will darker as it cools too), simply stop adding cold water and let the mixture heat up to 300 degrees. Once that’s achieved kill the flame and pour the mixture onto your lined cookie sheet. At this point you can let it cool at room temp for about 5 hours or you can toss in the freezer for an hour.
- Once the mix has hardened you can simply crack it up (taking a taste or two…or three) and put it in a freezer bag. Toss it back in the freezer and you’ll be all set for your big Belgian brew day.
- Try not to mess with the flame on the pot. If you mess with temp you’ll ruin the rhythm of the cooling steps.
- It takes a few seconds for the cool water to cool the mix, so don’t go overboard with the water additions. It will make your temp drop below 260.
- Keep an eye on things! Before you know it, you’ll be over the 275 degree mark.