syrups

Treacle

Posted on March 24, 2017 at 6:00 pm

In British cooking, “treacle” is a general reference to sugar syrups. In theory, molasses and corn syrup could be considered “treacle”, but in realistic terms it refers to Lyle’s Golden Syrup or their Dark Treacle.

One problem is that Lyle’s Golden Syrup is achingly expensive in the USA, and dark treacle is basically unheard of. (Many recipes will suggest substituting molasses for black treacle. This will work on the science of cooking, but not at the flavour level: dark treacle is different to molasses.)

As usual, the answer is “make it yourself”.. but you wouldn’t be here if that wasn’t an option, would you 🙂

Here I will show you how to make both Golden Syrup and Dark Treacle. The only difference is in the technique.

GOLDEN SYRUP

  • 200g / 7oz sugar
  • 60ml / 1/4 cup water
  • 600ml / 1.25 US pint boiling water
  • 1kg / 2.2lbs sugar
  • 1/4 lemon / 1.5tbsp lemon juice OR 1/4 tsp food grade citric acid

Get a deep pot and put the first two ingredients into it. Apply medium low heat and use a candy thermometer to track the temperature until it hits “hard crack”, 150C/300F. You do not need to stir this mixture, it will take care of itself.

Once the syrup hits the target temperature take it off the heat, remove the thermometer, and add 600ml / 1.25 US pints boiling water slowly, stirring all the while as the water will boil up. Once all the water is added, add 1 kg / 2.2lb of sugar and 1/4 of a lemon (or 1.5 tablespoons bottled lemon juice), squeezing the lemon into the pot before you drop the wedge into the pot.

Bring the syrup back to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes. After that, allow the syrup to cool slightly and strain the lemon bits through a sieve into hot mason jars. One batch should make about 1 quart of golden syrup.

DARK TREACLE

  • 200g / 7oz sugar
  • 60ml / 1/4 cup water
  • 500g / 1.1lbs sugar
  • 250ml / 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 lemon / 1.5tbsp lemon juice OR 1/4 tsp food grade citric acid

Welcome to Golden Syrup’s evil brother, Dark Treacle (cue thunder). (IMPORTANT NOTE: PLEASE SEE UPDATE)

You start the same as Golden, with the first two ingredients into the deep pot. You will not need the thermometer as we are going way beyond the point most candy thermometers can go!

Apply medium low heat and watch the sugar solution. You will need to watch carefully, because you are going to basically burn all this sugar. Keep watching and smelling as the solution goes through the colour stages, from golden to brown to mahogany almost all the way to black. You will see smoke coming off the sugar, which is the point at which your nerves will start to twitch: you need to get ALL this sugar solution to black, while stopping short of a fire in the pot!

Once the starter solution is jet black, take it off the heat.

DANGER: THIS SUGAR SOLUTION IS WELL IN EXCESS OF 200 CELSIUS / 400 FAHRENHEIT SO HANDLE WITH CARE

Allow the boiling syrup to cool down slightly for a minute or two, then add 500g / 1.1lb of sugar. The sugar syrup will want to seize up, but this is OK. Now add 250ml / 1 cup of boiling water and, as before, squeeze 1/4 of a lemon OR add 1.5 tbsp lemon juice to the mix. Bring the dark mess to a boil then reduce to a simmer for between 30 and 45 minutes.

This is where the technique gets tricky. With the dark molasses, you will need to test the syrup with the jam test: take a small amount of the treacle (a teaspoon) and drop it onto a very cold plate or saucepan lid. Once it has cooled down, give the treacle a poke with the spoon: if it’s too liquid, it needs more cooking. If it’s too thick (sets solid) add about 1/4 cup boiling water, stir well to integrate, then do the test again.

How can you tell if the consistency is right? It should be about the same texture as corn syrup: thick and syrupy, but not set solid.

Once you have made Golden and Dark syrups, what can you do with them? Well, they both go great on pancakes… but I have a better use for them. Watch this space!

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Blueberry Syrup

Posted on July 19, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Blueberries are in season just now, so get out there and pick some yourself!

Once you have a ridiculous amount of blueberries, what can you do with them? Well, I am here to help with a short series, starting with blueberry syrup.

Prepare your jars and lids by thorough washing with soap and hot water. I also boil the jars for 10 minutes which sterilises them.

6.5 to 7 cups of fresh blueberries, washed and sorted
4.5 to 7 cups of sugar OR 3 cups of natural frozen fruit juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh or bottled

Mash the blueberries with a hand held masher, food processor, hand blender, or whatever other method you want to use. The hand masher can be very cathartic if you need to work off some stress. Just saying.

Add the lemon juice to the blueberry mush, bring it to a boil and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes – they should be nice and mushy. You now need to make a choice – bits, or no bits? If you want to have a completely smooth syrup with no bits in it, you’ll need to strain the mush with a jelly bag, cheese cloth, or whatever. If you are not bothered about bits, as I am not, you can just move on to the next step.

Add all the sugar in one go. If you need to control added sweeteners, use the fruit juice concentrate instead of table sugar. I added 5 cups of sugar, and am extremely pleased with the result. Bring the blueberry mush and sugar to a boil for about a minute and keep an eye on the texture – you’ll want the syrup to still be a little liquid-y when you put them in the jars as they get some extra cooking time during the hot water processing. Over-cooking at this point could result in a blueberry candy rather than a pourable syrup!

Fill your jars – either pint or half pints – lid, ring, and boiling water bath process for 10 to 15 minutes*. Remove the lid of your BWB processor, wait for 5 minutes, then lift the jars out of the BWB and place the jars on cookie sheets to cool overnight.

Pour over pancakes or waffles and enjoy.

*as usual this is the time for 1000 feet above sea level or less. If you are above 1000ft, please check with the USDA processing guidelines for how much extra time you need to add.

Yield: with 5 cups of sugar I got 4 pint jars, or 8 jelly jars. With 7 cups you should get about 5 pints or 10 jelly jars.

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Pancake syrup

Posted on April 4, 2011 at 8:21 am

This is what I think of as an “almost-recipe”. It is substantially right, but there is one thing it falls down on that makes the recipe fail: if you read the comments, people complain about it recrystallising.

Recrystallisation comes as no surprise, because there is nothing in the recipe to prevent it. Table sugar is sucrose and fructose bound together with a connecting bond (please note, this is a gross over-simplification – this level of molecular chemistry is outside the remit of this blog!) and this bond is very powerful. If you break the bond by use of heat, it will re-form itself as soon as the heat comes off which will re-form the sugar crystal. If you want to have a syrup at room temperature, you need to interfere with that bond, which you can do by introducing an impurity – glucose.

OK, so where do you get the glucose from? Honey, Golden Syrup, Golden Eagle syrup, and, if you absolutely have to…. from corn syrup (note: not high fructose corn syrup).

Now that I have established how to turn this from an almost-recipe into a real recipe, here’s the working version:

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons glucose syrup
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple flavored extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • In a saucepan, combine the white sugar, brown sugar, glucose syrup, and water. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 3 minutes. Stir in the maple extract and vanilla, and remove form the heat. Let cool to room temperature and decant into glass jars or jugs. Serve lavishly over pancakes, waffles, or stirred into some home made yoghurt.

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