Understanding Fermentation in Glucose Syrups

In the world of sweeteners, one key property, often overlooked, plays a pivotal role—fermentability. Depending on the industry, this property can be a boon or a bane. Imagine a soft drink manufacturer who desires sweetness without fermentation, and on the flip side, a brewer or pharmaceutical manufacturer actively seeking high fermentability.

Decoding Fermentability: A Percentage Game

Fermentability, in the context of glucose syrup, is defined as the percentage of its carbohydrate content that undergoes fermentation by yeast under controlled conditions. Picture it as a dance between the syrup’s dry weight and the yeast’s transformative prowess.

Brewing Alchemy: The Role of DE

The brewing industry, with its alchemical pursuit of alcohol, favors high Dextrose Equivalent (DE) glucose syrups. These syrups, rich in fermentable sugars, play a key role in alcohol production. On the flip side, high maltose syrups offer an alternative, allowing brewers to bypass the mashing stage and increase throughput.

DE Unveiled: A Gauge for Fermentability

DE value, a numerical indicator tied to the degree of hydrolysis, becomes a valuable gauge for the fermentability of glucose syrup. The relationship is straightforward—a 21 DE syrup is about 21% fermentable, 43 DE hits 43%, and 100 DE goes all-in at 100%.

Fermentation Dynamics: A Sugar Symphony

In the realm of yeast fermentation, mono- and disaccharides like dextrose and maltose take center stage. Maltotriose, a trisaccharide, joins the performance but at a slower tempo. Higher saccharides linger in the background, contributing minimally to the sugar symphony. The interplay between DE and fermentability becomes evident—the higher the DE, the greater the fermentability.

Beyond DE: Navigating Fermentability Terrain

While high fructose glucose syrup elegantly succumbs to fermentation, its hydrogenated derivatives—sorbitol, maltitol, and hydrogenated glucose syrups—stand as non-fermentable titans. Hydrogenation becomes the maestro, allowing control over fermentability. Even with the reduction of DE through hydrogenation, a trace of fermentability lingers in lower DE syrups.

Digestive Harmony: Hydrogenation and Beyond

In the gut, hydrogenated glucose syrups undergo breakdown, revealing glucose and sorbitol. The laxative effects, often associated with sorbitol, vary with DE. Lower DE syrups produce less sorbitol on hydrolysis, reducing their laxative impact compared to their higher DE counterparts.

Fermentation Beyond Yeast: A Broader Perspective

While yeast follows its fermentation pathways, other organisms in the fermentation realm showcase a diverse metabolic prowess. DE, while significant, takes a back seat in their fermentation journey.

In this intricate interplay between sweetness and fermentation, glucose syrups reveal their versatile nature, making them a cornerstone in various industries, from brewing elixirs to pharmaceutical concoctions.

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