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Sugarwork advice needed please

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hi, hope this is the right section for this, couldn't see anywhere better:


I have just started working with pulled and blown sugar and am getting some good results. However I seem to be facing a problem with contamination/purification. My sugar comes out fine, without crystalising, but has (to me) an unacceptable level of impurities in it. Here is my basic method:


+ Wash pot with soapy water and metal scourer, then rinse well and leave to dry naturally.

+ Wash SilPat with hot water (I've found that it sticks to my shower screen so I put it up against it and blast for 2 or 3 mins with the shower on max heat) and shake, then leave to dry.

+ 1 Kilo of sugar, 400g of water and 3g of cream of tartar over the lowest heat I can get.

+ When scum starts to float, begin scooping it with a mesh rehashed from an old tea strainer. When the majority of scum is gone, brush the sides to prevent crystals and increase the heat until the bubbles become more fierce, pushing any remaining scum to the sides where I scoop it with a teaspoon (rinsing between scoops of course).

+ Bring to above 160 degrees C. Pour onto SilPat and work as normal.


Is my problem in the way I wash things, impurities in the water, equipment used or what? Also, how much scum should I expect off 1kg of sugar, and how can I tell when it's bubbles from the boiling process and not just scum? I'd really appreciate some help on this.



post #2 of 8
Ive found sugar that cooks use also always has tons of impurities in it from double dipping. Could also be your water... Try using distilled water.
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post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Ok, I'll try that, thanks.

post #4 of 8

Can I ask, are you concerned about the amount you scooping off? You do say that you just started working with pulled and blown sugar, so have you been around others and noticed them scoop off considerably less? What you describe in your process pretty standard, your doing everything correctly. To me, it seems like when you ask "how can I tell when it's bubbles from the boiling process and not just scum" sort of points to what your concerned about. You'll see the scum when the mixture comes to a boil, by that I mean the moments when the mixture is reaching a full boil and foaming up. The scum is, as best as I can describe it, sort of a concentrated mass of bubbles in the center. If you keep boiling, they will dissipate, thats why you need to skim the top as the mixture is coming to a boil. It really sounds like your doing everything correctly, just maybe a little overly concerned about the scum. Just scoop it up when you see it (right as the sugar comes to a boil) and keep boiling. Just make sure to keep washing down the sides of your pan (personally, I do this about 3 times, depending on the batch). A few stray sugar crystals will give you more problems then any scum missed.


Heres a pic to help btw. The concentrated white bubbles are the scum, just scoop and keep boiling :-)

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks, haven't had a chance to try either suggestion yet but hoping to try tomorrow morning. I'm finding I'm getting quite a few 'bumps' in the sugar, a bit like those on the ribbon on this picture:




Is this normal and to be expected when working with sugar? I look at the pro's and their sugar seems to be spotless but of course I never know if they're using Isomalt, which presumably would make a difference, wouldn't it?

post #6 of 8

Thats a very good observation. I've honestly wondered the same thing myself. I first really noticed it when I went through a taffy making phase, I know it's not pulled sugar, but I found a similar look. Specifically, I was making salt water taffy, and after boiling, I mixed in the salt, cooled, and started pulling. During pulling I observed a number of these bumps, and assumed it was the salt. But over the years, after some time I realized it wasnt the salt, and saw the same thing anytime I pulled sugar. I've done, plenty of times, sugar formulas for pulled hard candies, sugar for pulled and blown decorative pieces, sugar for pillow mints (these have a higher water content, and crystallize in a day or so to give a crumbly texture) as well as many variations of each. I really have noticed it every time. So truthfully, I'm not exactly sure what those little bumps are. I thought they could perhaps be crystallized pieces of sugar, but my pulled sugar doesnt behave in an unusual way, it doesnt crystallize during pulling or anything, and the candies have a decent shelf life. I honestly stopped worrying about it though, and assumed it was normal. And what made me say this was some of the pictures in the book The Art of the Confectioner.




Get the book if you havent already. But if you look closely at the beautiful ribbon on the cover, you can see those same little bumps. And open the cover and you can see the bumps magnified on the super close up of the ribbon. So after doing doing this every week for a few years and seeing a text from Notter with the sugar having the same characteristics, I assume its normal. If anyone has more insight into this, I'd be interested as well.

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks, yeah that book was my first port of call when I was setting up to do this and I too had noticed the bumps but I didn't know if they'd been 'passed' because it was only decoration/practice pieces. Got a kilo of sugar on the go this very second so will post back and let you know how it goes. Wanted to get time to distil the water first but as the ld song goes - "You can't always get what you want" eh?

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

Well my ribbon was horrific thanks to these annoying bumps, but I worked through and came up with this:




I'll definitely try distilling the water next time.

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