Homemade Corn Syrup You Can Use in Place of the Store-Bought Stuff
Every time I discover a way to make a popular commercial product at home, my mind is blown. Homemade corn syrup is not something I had ever considered making, but much like homemade grenadine, homemade Baileys, homemade goldfish crackers, and homemade Oreo cookies, I am so glad that I did. While I wouldn’t make any of these products from scratch every single time (I’m human and laziness often wins), every item on the list is better that its store-bought counterpart.
When I posted on the Cupcake Project Facebook page that I was making something with two pounds of sugar and corn, the guesses started rolling in. Several of you (the first being Amanda Johnson) correctly surmised that I was making homemade corn syrup (have a look at the post to see the other guesses). Susan Milner wasn’t so sure: “I thought corn syrup at first, too, but corn syrup doesn’t taste like corn. It’s just sugar from corn, so I say it’s a corn whiskey moonshine for sure!” I didn’t make moonshine, but Susan is correct. Store-bought corn syrup doesn’t taste like corn. In fact, this corn syrup is quite a different product from what you are used to (see the corn syrup Wikipedia page for details on how commercial corn syrup is made). This corn syrup is a thick sugar syrup that has a mild, pleasing taste of sweet corn.
Questions and Answers About Homemade Corn Syrup
Q. Is homemade corn syrup the same as store-bought corn syrup?
A. As I said above, it is not. However, it can be used as a substitute for commercial corn syrup in most recipes. Unlike commercial corn syrup, homemade corn syrup will develop some sugar crystals after it sits around for a while. So, it might not be the best choice for use in candy making.
Q. Will recipes made with this corn syrup all end up tasting like corn?
A. I depends on the recipe – how many other flavors are present and how strong they are. The corn flavor in homemade corn syrup is very mild and it is easily overpowered. I like the corn flavor, but if you are looking for a corn syrup substitute and don’t want it taste like corn, you can leave the corn off entirely and just make a thick sugar syrup (I’ll show you how below).
Q. What is the shelf life of homemade corn syrup?
A. I haven’t put this to the test, but Stella from Brave Tart (whose recipe I used) says that it lasts indefinitely in the refrigerator.
Products Related to Homemade Corn Syrup
To make homemade corn syrup you need a vanilla bean. Vanilla beans can be expensive. In the Whole Foods near my house, one bean costs six dollars. If you plan to bake vanilla cupcakes on a regular basis, I recommend purchasing vanilla beans online – you’ll save a ton of money. These beans are incredibly fresh and my mailbox has never smelled as good as the day the beans arrived. (View on Amazon) [paid link]
Homemade Corn Syrup Recipe
The recipe I used comes from Stella Parks of BraveTart. I’ve rewritten it and added my own notes here.
Homemade Corn Syrup
- 14 ounces corn on the cob For Stella, this was 4 ears of corn; for me it was only two. The corn is just there to impart flavor, so if it's a little bit over or a little bit under, it won't matter.
- 5 1/4 cups water use 2 1/2 cups water if you plan to leave the corn off
- 2 pounds sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 vanilla bean
- Slice corn cobs into one-inch slices. This was the hardest part of making homemade corn syrup. It's not easy to cut corn cobs. Use a sharp knife, put your weight into it, and be careful. Note: If you plan to leave the corn off, skip directly to step five.
- Bring a medium-sized saucepan filled with the water and cut corn to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium and simmer until water is reduced by half - about thirty minutes.
- Using a colander, strain out the corn, reserving the corn-flavored water.
- Return the water to the saucepan and add the sugar and salt.
- Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add both the seeds and the pod to the saucepan.
- Turn heat to medium-low and stir until sugar is dissolved.
- Simmer until the mixture is thick enough to stick to the back of a spoon. Amanda said to simmer for thirty minutes, but I let mine go for an hour. I know because I watched an entire episode of Mad Men [paid link] while it was cooking down.
- Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
- Store in the refrigerator with the vanilla bean until ready to use.
- When ready to use, if necessary, microwave with a touch of water and gently stir to remove the sugar crystals.
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