Golden syrup is a versatile and delicious ingredient that has been used in baking and cooking for over a century.
But what exactly is golden syrup, and is it the same as cane syrup?
In this article, we’ll explore the origins and properties of golden syrup, as well as its differences from other syrups like cane syrup and corn syrup.
Whether you’re a seasoned baker or just curious about different types of sweeteners, read on to discover the sweet secrets of golden syrup.
Is Golden Syrup Cane Syrup?
Golden syrup and cane syrup are often confused as being the same thing, but they are actually two different types of syrups.
Golden syrup is made by refining cane sugar juice into sugar or by treating a sugar solution with acid. It has a thick, smooth consistency and a unique buttery scent with a light caramel flavor. It is commonly used in the UK and referred to as “treacle” or “light treacle.”
On the other hand, cane syrup is made directly from sugarcane juice that is boiled down to create a thick, amber-colored syrup. It has a rich, molasses-like flavor and is often used in Southern US cuisine.
While both syrups are made from sugarcane, their production processes and resulting flavors are different. Golden syrup has a lighter flavor and is often used in baking recipes, while cane syrup has a stronger flavor and is used in savory dishes like stews and glazes.
What Is Golden Syrup?
Golden syrup is a thick, amber-colored syrup that has a consistency similar to honey. It is made by refining sugar cane or sugar beet juice into sugar or by treating a sugar solution with acid. It has a unique buttery scent and a light caramel flavor that is less sweet than corn syrup. Golden syrup is often used as a substitute for honey when it is unavailable or too expensive. It is commonly used in baking recipes such as cookies, tarts, cakes, and porridge. Lyle’s Golden Syrup is a popular brand of golden syrup that has been around since the late 1800s and is recognized by Guinness World Records as having the world’s oldest branding and packaging. While often confused with cane syrup, golden syrup has a lighter flavor and is not typically used in savory dishes like stews and glazes.
The History Of Golden Syrup
The history of golden syrup can be traced back to 1863 when Abram Lyle, a successful owner of a cooperage, acquired possession of Glebe Sugar Refinery in Greenock, Renfrewshire. He noticed that a by-product of the sugar refining process was a bitter molasses-brown treacle-like syrup, typically sold for use in animal food. He wondered whether this could be adjusted and sold for human consumption. His sugar refining business expanded to London and in 1883, Charles Eastick, an English chemist at the Abram Lyle & Sons refinery in Plaistow, east London, further formulated how sugar could be refined to make a preserve and sweetener for cooking, bringing it to its current recipe. Charles and his brother John Joseph Eastick experimented with the refining process of the bitter molasses-brown treacle into an eminently palatable syrup with the viscosity, hue, and sweetness of honey. The resulting product was marketed commercially in 1885 as “golden syrup.”
Initially known as “Goldie” and sent to grocers across London in wooden casks, it was first sold in its iconic metal tins in 1885, quickly becoming a staple of British life due to its rich color and strong flavor. The name “golden syrup” in connection with molasses had occurred as early as 1840 in an Adelaide newspaper, the South Australian. The tin bears a picture of the rotting carcass of a lion with a swarm of bees and the slogan “Out of the strong came forth sweetness.” This is a reference to the Biblical story in chapter 14 of the Book of Judges in which Samson was traveling to the land of the Philistines in search of a wife. During the journey he killed a lion, and when he passed the same spot on his return he noticed that a swarm of bees had formed a comb of honey in the carcass. Samson later turned this into a riddle at a wedding: “Out of the eater came forth meat and out of the strong came forth sweetness.”
In 1921, Lyle’s business merged with Tate, a sugar-refining firm founded by Sir Henry Tate in 1859, to become Tate & Lyle. In 2010, Tate & Lyle sold its sugar refining and golden syrup business to American Sugar Refining. Today most golden syrups are produced by a specialist manufacturer by inverting half the refiners return syrup to fructose and glucose and blending it back again; this ensures the product remains liquid and will never re-crystallize. Golden syrup’s formulation predates the first petrol motorcar, Coca-Cola, Marmite, and Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, and in 2006 it was officially recognized as the world’s oldest branded food product.
How Golden Syrup Is Made
Golden syrup is made by a process called inversion, which involves breaking down sucrose (table sugar) into glucose and fructose. This is achieved by heating sugar with water and citric acid, which creates a syrupy liquid that is then filtered and boiled to the desired consistency.
The process of making golden syrup starts with raw cane sugar or sugar beet juice. The juice is extracted and then refined to remove impurities. The resulting clear juice is then treated with lime to neutralize any acids present.
Next, the juice is boiled in large vats until it reaches a thick, sticky consistency. During this process, the sugar molecules break down into glucose and fructose, which gives the syrup its unique flavor.
The syrup is then filtered to remove any remaining impurities and boiled again until it reaches the desired consistency. Finally, it is packaged and sold as golden syrup.
Golden Syrup Vs. Cane Syrup: What’s The Difference?
The main difference between golden syrup and cane syrup is their production process and resulting flavor. Golden syrup is made by refining cane sugar juice into sugar or by treating a sugar solution with acid, resulting in a thick, smooth consistency with a light caramel flavor. Cane syrup, on the other hand, is made directly from sugarcane juice that is boiled down to create a thick, amber-colored syrup with a rich, molasses-like flavor.
Another difference between the two syrups is their common usage. Golden syrup is commonly used in baking recipes as a substitute for honey or corn syrup, while cane syrup is often used in Southern US cuisine for savory dishes like stews and glazes.
In terms of color, golden syrup is lighter in color compared to cane syrup’s darker amber hue. The consistency of the two syrups also varies slightly, with golden syrup having a thicker consistency compared to cane syrup’s maple-syrup-esque viscosity.
Golden Syrup Vs. Corn Syrup: Which Is Better?
Golden syrup and corn syrup are often compared as substitutes for each other, but they are quite different in terms of flavor and texture.
Golden syrup is made from sugar cane juice that has been concentrated and broken down into glucose and fructose. It has a thick, sticky consistency with a deep caramelized and buttery flavor. In contrast, corn syrup is made from corn starch and has a mild, almost flavorless taste with a thinner consistency.
While both syrups are used as sweeteners in cooking and baking, golden syrup is often preferred for its unique flavor profile. It adds depth and complexity to desserts like treacle tart and sticky toffee pudding, while corn syrup is commonly used in candy-making for its ability to prevent sugar crystallization.
In terms of health, golden syrup has a moderate glycemic index rating due to its combination of glucose and fructose. Corn syrup, on the other hand, has a high glycemic index rating due to its high glucose content, which can lead to blood sugar spikes.
Uses For Golden Syrup In Baking And Cooking
Golden syrup is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of sweet and savory dishes. In baking, it can be substituted for corn syrup to add a far superior flavor. It is commonly used in British desserts like gingerbreads, steamed sponge cakes, and puddings, as well as in cookies like brandy snaps and ANZAC biscuits. Golden syrup can also be used to make delicious flapjacks, treacle sponges, and sticky sauces.
Aside from baking, golden syrup can be used as a substitute for any liquid sweetener. It is also delicious stirred into oatmeal or yogurt with fresh or dried fruit or used in place of simple syrup in cocktails. Its unique buttery and caramel-like flavor profile makes it a popular ingredient in many dishes.