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How To Make Candied Strawberries Without Corn Syrup

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With just about every food wrapped in plastic having corn syrup as an ingredient, can you make candied strawberries without using this sugary substance? 

The answer has to do with what you are trying to achieve by not using corn syrup in your recipe. Corn syrup is sweet but it doesn’t exactly get the job done when it comes to flavor which is why it is almost always paired with added sugar. 

However, not everyone prefers to add corn syrup for either dietary or health reasons which is why you need to know how to work without this ingredient.

So, how do you make candied strawberries without corn syrup? If you want to make candied strawberries that you plan on consuming immediately, then dipping them in melted sugar is the best way to go. If you’re not eating them immediately, you can also use a few drops of lemon juice to replace the preserving effects of corn syrup. 

Read on to find out how you can make delicious candied strawberries without using any corn syrup whatsoever!

Corn Syrup Explained

Corn syrup was popularized in the 70s and quickly became the number one choice for manufactures due to a simple fact: it’s cheaper than sugar!

In the US, the production and cultivation of corn are highly subsidized, with manufacturers receiving a lot of tax benefits. Food scientists quickly discovered that by chemically processing corn starch, they can convert it into glucose.  

Glucose is naturally sweet but it lacks the flavor of sugar so by adding enzymes and acids, one can covert some of the glucose into fructose, which is sweeter and provides a more holistic flavor to the mixture.

Food scientists use a different ratio of fructose and glucose to make different types of corn syrups

But to keep things simple, just think of corn syrup as a cheaper version of sugar, which is why manufacturers are able to add it so freely to almost every type of food in the supermarket.

Candied Fruit

Candied strawberries are a delicacy known worldwide. This type of food is delicious, cheap and you can easily make it at home as well. 

The origin of candied fruit is largely unknown but we can easily trace the origin of adding corn syrup to candied strawberries (which goes back to the 1970s).

Yes, corn syrup does make things sweeter but that’s not why you would only use this substance. 

On a microscopic level, sugar has a lot of jagged edges and when you cook sugar it starts to turn into a liquid syrup. If you continue cooking the syrup, you will notice that the sugar will start to crystalize.

This is where corn syrup comes in; when added to sugar, it adds a balance of flavor and allows the mixture to remain smooth as corn syrup is also an invert sugar

So, when you make candied fruit, and in this case, candied strawberries, using a mixture of sugar and corn starch can result in a better coated candied treat. 

Also, the resulting mixture can remain crisp for hours and will be significantly sweeter than using just syrup. But as we mentioned above, not everyone is a fan of corn syrup

The excessive use of corn syrup has been linked to several health issues.

Regardless, there are other ingredients that you can use that can mimic the characteristics of corn syrup without making your food much sweeter than it needs to be.

But first, let’s look at how you would make a basic batch of candied strawberries without corn syrup. 

How To Make Candied Strawberries (Without Corn Syrup)

Before we get into what you’ll need, please make sure to be extremely careful when working with hot sugar! It may not look like it, but hot sugar is extremely hot and can easily burn your skin.

What You’ll Need:

  • A cooking thermometer
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of room temperature water
  • 1 large pot
  • Strawberries 
  • BBQ sticks or long toothpicks

Directions:

  1. Begin by cleaning the strawberries. Run them under cold water and clean them properly. Dry them thoroughly before inserting a BBQ stick from the top, and put them aside. 
  2. Over medium heat, add the sugar and water to a pan. Place in a cooking thermometer and keep an eye on the temperature.
  3. You want to heat the mixture to 285°F. Occasionally mix and allow the mixture to liquefy. 
  4. The sugar will have dissolved into a liquid by now and may also start browning. When the thermometer reads 285°F, turn the heat off and start dipping the strawberries one by one.
  5. Lift the strawberries and let the excess candy mixture drip down to the pan. You can go in for a second coat but we recommend just sticking with the initial coat to prevent ridges from forming on the surface.
  6. If the candy mixture hardens, simply reheat it on low heat until it liquefies again.
  7. Set the candied strawberries on a baking sheet and allow the coating to harden. Once cooled, the coating will remain hard for about 2-3 hours depending on humidity and ambient heat.
  8. Lightly coat them with powdered sugar or have them as is! 

If you don’t have a thermometer, you can eye-ball the syrup. When the mixture starts to bubble, wait till it gets a light golden color. Turn the heat down and take a bit of the syrup in a spoon and dip it in a container with water. 

If the syrup hardens and crystallizes as it cools in the water, you are done. If not, turn the heat back up and simmer for about 1-2 minutes and repeat this test

Corn Syrup Replacements

Since we didn’t add corn syrup to the above recipe, you might notice that the flavor of the candied sugar might be a bit less punchy.

While you can supplement these strawberries with powdered sugar, chocolate, or maple syrup, you can also use a few great corn syrup replacements for the same effect.

Here are a few great recommendations: 

Lemon Juice

The lemon zest will add a whole lot of flavor and complexity to the candied strawberries. The acidity of the lemon juice will cut through the sweetness and will also amplify the overall flavor profile of the strawberries.

The acid will also cause the syrup to become smooth, just as it would using corn syrup.

You would be surprised by just how much difference this simple ingredient will make if used in the right quantity. For 1 cup of sugar just add 5-6 drops of lemon for that zesty and refreshing flavor. 

Honey

Mix in a tablespoon of honey in the above recipe to get that natural, earthy, and deliciously sweet flavor in your candied strawberries.

When using honey, you can go with any light-colored variety as darker honey will be significantly stronger in flavor

Alternatively, you can also drip in honey after you have coated the strawberries in simple sugar syrup.

Maple Syrup

If you aren’t restricted by your diet then you have to try maple syrup when cooking the candy mixture. 1-2 tablespoons of syrup will go a long way in terms of flavor and crunch.

These strawberries will be much sweeter than the base recipe we shared above and will also have a unique rounded flavor. 

Mint

This ingredient won’t add sweetness but it will surely take your candied strawberries to the next level.

There is just something refreshing about subtly minty candied strawberries. Don’t get us wrong, we aren’t going for a strong mint flavor here.

Just a hint of mint can elevate this recipe and will have your guests guessing what you did to make your candied strawberries so special. 

Grind ½ a tablespoon of mint and add it to the sugar as it liquifies. Mix everything until homogenous and follow the recipe as listed above. 

Related Questions

Now that we’ve gone over how you can make your own candied strawberries at home without using any corn syrup, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!

How long do you have to cook the candy mixture?

When you add sugar and water to the pot, turn the heat to medium and let the mixture liquify. Once all the sugar has dissolved you will start to see the mixture bubble. 

Keep a thermometer handy. Once the mixture has reached 285°F and has a light golden color, take it off the heat and start dipping the strawberries

Can I use this recipe for any fruit?

Yes, you can use this basic recipe to make candied fruit. We recommend that you try bananas, apples, grapes, and red cherries.

The recipe can also be tweaked by adding mint or honey. You can also experiment with other types of sugars like cane sugar to change the flavor of the candy mixture. 

Can you store the excess candy mixture?

Yes, you can store the excess candy mixture by heating it up and moving it to an air-tight container. Please keep in mind that you will only be heating the mixture to make it pliable instead of cooking it further so heat it on low heat. 

Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks and heat over a stove on low heat to warm it up again.

Candied Strawberries Without Corn Syrup

Candied Strawberries Without Corn Syrup

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

These delightful little treats are perfect for any party you have coming up, all without any unnecessary corn syrup!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup of room temperature water
  • 12-14 strawberries

Instructions

  1. Begin by cleaning the strawberries. Run them under cold water and clean them properly. Dry them thoroughly before inserting a BBQ stick from the top, and put them aside.
  2. Over medium heat, add the sugar and water to a pan. Place in a cooking thermometer and keep an eye on the temperature.
  3. You want to heat the mixture to 285°F. Occasionally mix and allow the mixture to liquefy.
  4. The sugar will have dissolved into a liquid by now and may also start browning. When the thermometer reads 285°F, turn the heat off and start dipping the strawberries one by one.
  5. Lift the strawberries and let the excess candy mixture drip down to the pan. You can go in for a second coat but we recommend just sticking with the initial coat to prevent ridges from forming on the surface.
  6. If the candy mixture hardens, simply reheat it on low heat until it liquefies again.
  7. Set the candied strawberries on a baking sheet and allow the coating to harden. Once cooled, the coating will remain hard for about 2-3 hours depending on humidity and ambient heat.
  8. Lightly coat them with powdered sugar or have them as is!

Notes

Make sure to be extra careful when working with hot sugar!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 71Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 0gSugar: 18gProtein: 0g

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