The term invert comes from the method used for measuring sugar syrups. Plane polarised light passed through a sample of pure sucrose solution is rotated (optical rotation). As the solution is converted to a mixture of sucrose, fructose and glucose, the amount of rotation is reduced and the light appears inverted compared to light passed through the sucrose solution.
An acid or enzyme enables, but is not consumed in, the reaction. The rate of the reaction depends on temperature and concentration of the reactants, with more concentrated solutions requiring more time to achieve a given conversion at a given temperature. Elevated temperature speeds the conversion for acid type reactions, but does not for enzymatic conversion above the temperature of maximum activation. (This paradoxical aspect of enzymatic conversion allows the fondant to be strongly heated, softening the fondant for forming. Upon cooling, it hardens. Only after being coated with chocolate are the candies raised in temperature to the enzyme activation point. The invert sugar is produced in-situ.)
The mixture is boiled for 20 minutes, and will convert enough of the sucrose to effectively prevent crystallization, without giving a noticeably sour taste. Invert sugar syrup may also be produced without the use of acids or enzymes by thermal means alone: two parts granulated sucrose and one part water simmered for five to seven minutes will convert a modest portion to invert sugar.
All invert syrups are created by hydrolysing sucrose to glucose (dextrose) and fructose by heating a sucrose solution, then relying either on time alone, or time and the catalysis reaction of an acid or enzymes to speed the reaction. Commercially prepared acid catalyzed solutions are neutralised when the desired level of inversion is reached.
All constituent sugars (sucrose, glucose and fructose) support fermentation, so invert sugar solutions may be fermented as readily as sucrose solutions.
The shelf life of partial inverts is approximately six months, depending on storage and climatic conditions. Crystalized invert sugar solutions may be restored to their liquid state by gently heating.
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