We love farmhouse beers, particularly saisons. And if you starting digging through saison recipes, you’ll keep seeing an ingredient with an annoyingly spelt name, specifically “Candi” sugar. It sounds like a sugar destined to be a cheerleader. But regardless, this sugar adds a seriously notable layer of complexity and authenticity to your saisons and other Belgian-style beers.
This is how Chris just made it for our most recent brew, but it’s come to our attention that there is a fairly different approach that we’re going to try sooner than later.
- 1kg white table sugar (sucrose)
- 1 tsp cream of tartar (tartaric acid)
- Enough water to just dissolve the dry ingredients
You will need a heat source and pot, and an instant read thermometer will go a long way here. Also something to stir.
So, chuck the dry ingredients into the pot, and slowly add water while stirring. You want everything wet, but only just; it will be crazy thick, and that’s the ticket. Turn up the heat, and bring it to a boil. You’re boiling off the water and bringing the sugar up to 260F. This will take a while, but once you hit that temp, you need to hold it there. You’re “inverting” the sugar, which is to say, breaking the sucrose into it’s foundational glucose and fructose. This will make it taste fruity.
Holding at this temp is a bit tricky, which is why the thermometer is important. Also, have some cold water close to hand to pour a bit in if you need to quicly bring the temperature down. For the clear candi sugar, I held it at 260F for about 8 minutes. For the amber, I kept it there for about 20 minutes, to colour the sugar. After the inversion, I brought the temperature up to 300F (this is called “hard crack” in candy-making), which means that when the sugar cools it will harden like a hard candy.
Once you hit 300F, pour the sugar into a pan lined with something non-stick, and set the tray on a cooling rack (if you have one). once it’s cool enough to handle, peel it off whatever non-stick thing you used and continue to let it cool. Once it’s totally cool, you can break it into little peices (I just snapped it by hand, but some folks chuck the chunks in a food processor to make them really small). Toss them in a bag with a bit of powdered sugar so it doesn’t stick together, and you’re set.
Alternatively you can make it syrup if you prefer. If this is the case, once you’ve inverted and coloured the sugar, turn of the heat, and mix in 1/2cup of water per 1kg of sugar and keep in something easy to decant out of.
We’ll post the results of using the alternative method linked to above, and let you know how it turns out.
Oh, and by the way, the easiest way to clean up that pot and spoon that will be covered in hardened sugar? Fill the pot with water and bring it to a boil. Stir with the spoon. The sugar will all dissolve and you can pour it out and wash as normal.