Glucose powder is made from dried corn syrup which has been powdered for use as a sweetener. It is used as a flavour enhancer and can also help improve the stability of a variety of different foods. Glucose powder can be used in place of sugar, although it is only around 70% as sweet, and it is often used in place of sugar in baked goods, confectionery and fruit preserves. It can be found commercially in energy drinks as it provides easily accessible energy to the body which is ideal when undertaking strenuous physical activity.
Glucose powder is often used in ice cream in place of sugar as it freezes at a lower temperature than sugar which helps prevent ice crystals from forming and extends the freezer life of ice creams.
As well as a sweetener, glucose powder has several other properties that make it a practical addition to a number of foods. It improves the elasticity of sugar and is often used when making confectionery to keep the mixture pliable and to avoid recrystallisation of the sugar as you work with it.
Using glucose powder in cooking
Glucose powder dissolves easily and comes in different flavours so is often used in baking to impart sweetness without overwhelming other flavours. It is also incredibly good at conducting heat, even more effectively than the oils traditionally used in frying, allowing foods to be fried faster and retain their shape and consistency throughout the cooking process.
The glucose powder also retains moisture in food, capturing flavours and aromas that might otherwise have been dissipated through evaporation as the food cooks. Being able to fry food without fat has many health benefits and can be a great way to increase the range of foods available to those on restricted diets.
Using glucose powder in molecular gastronomy
Chefs that like to combine scientific knowledge with culinary creativity often turn to molecular gastronomy to achieve the results they are after. When it comes to glucose powder, it has some properties that make it useful in a range of dishes where you might not expect to find it.
One of the key elements to molecular cooking is understanding the chemical and physical reactions that take place when combining, heating or otherwise preparing food. One of these is the Maillard reaction, a chemical reaction that takes place between sugars and amino acids that can be observed when foods such as biscuits, steaks and breads brown on the outside. It was named after French chemist Louie Camille Maillard who was the first person to describe its effects, but it can be seen wherever heat is applied to foods that turn brown on the outside due to the caramelising of the sugars.
Maillard reactions are responsible for a wide range of flavours which vary depending on the chemicals in the food and the temperature and length of time over which the heat is applied. Glucose powder is often included in recipes to encourage the Maillard reaction to take place as it melts within the optimal temperature range for the reaction to take place.
Glucose powder can be used to create a Maillard reaction by melting it and using it to coat the foods that you want to fry which will get a golden brown coating so long as the temperature is kept below 190 degrees. This process can be used to give any sweet foods a golden brown coating, and savoury foods can be wrapped in lettuce or cabbage leaves to achieve the same effect but without the sweetness.
The melted glucose powder may look like glucose syrup, but it is the absence of water in the glucose powder that creates the Maillard effect when using this technique.