Caramel is very concentrated sugar produced by means of heating of the sugars. There is soft and hard caramel. Soft caramel, like toffee, has higher moisture content, contains fat and usually some milk substances. Below you will find the composition of both caramel species:
|Production process caramel|
|Mixing and boiling|
|with milk substances||without milk substances|
|40-70% saccharose||30-60% saccharose||30-60% saccharose|
|30-60% glucose syrup||20-50% glucose syrup||20-50% glucose syrup|
|1-8% invert sugar||3-15% fat
|1-3% water||4-8% water||4-8% water|
|0.5-2% citric- or tartaric acid||4-6% lactose (milk sugar)||-|
|0.1-0.2% ash||1-10% invert sugar||1-10% invert sugar|
|3-5% milk protein||-|
|1-1.5% ash||1-1.5% ash|
|0.05-0.5% gelatine||0.05-0.5% gelatine|
The production process is very similar. The difference in character between both caramel types is mainly due to their composition.
Mixing and boilingThe first step is mixing and boiling of the sugar to remove water. All sugars are mixed and heated till 120-150ºC. Several sugars are used for a better control of the heating process and to make the process more stable. As water is removed during boiling, the concentrated sugar solution obtains more and more the properties of the sugars. Sugars have a higher boiling point than water. During evaporation, the boiling point increases. From 121°C onwards, saccharose can crystallize. To realize this, several sugars with different boiling point are used.
By boiling under vacuum, the boiling point is decreased. Less heat destruction of the sugars occurs. Crystallization occurs more quickly.
During boiling, the sugar mass is stirred to distribute the heat.
Thanks to the high temperature of the process brown coloration of the sugars occurs. Moreover specific taste and flavour are formed. The discolouration and aroma formation at high temperatures is caramelisation.
air can be ventilated throughout the mass. For this purpose, air or CO2 is supplied and mixed intensively throughout the mass. Ventilation changes the appearance, the structure and the density of the caramel. The temperature of the product increases slightly because of the intensive mixing.
cooling down, the form of the caramel can only be changed by cutting. The caramel is cut and can be packaged. Cutting is not always necessary. It depends on the formation process.
packaging of caramel is plastic dish or sack. The packaging does not need to protect the caramel for light, but a cool storage room is necessary, especially for soft caramel. The shelf life of caramel is some months till a year. Microbiologically, the product causes no problems. The shelf life is obstructed through changes in taste after oxidation of the fat.