Less sweet syrup

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Florida shaver

Fri Sep 22, 2017 4:50 pm

I'm making shaved ice in a home kitchen for use with a Little Snowie 2 cube shaver. I'm trying to find syrup recipes that aren't as sweet tasting as standard simple-syrup based syrups, but still produce a good texture of shaved ice.

I've tried using a syrup made from 1 part water to 1 part sugar, and then adding flavoring. It works perfectly and gives me a very smooth snow ball. I just want something that doesn't taste quite so sweet.

When I've tried just using less sugar in the simple syrup before adding the flavoring, it melts and re-freezes the snow and produces a grainy shaved ice. Using cold diluted syrup just freezes into a large ice block.

I'm not looking for artificial sweetener based syrup, just a syrup that isn't as sweet tasting. Does anyone have any recipes or suggestions?
Posts: 90
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2014 1:17 pm

Mon Sep 25, 2017 12:38 am

The sugar-free Ready To Use syrups I have seen add a thickener to make them less runny, which, I assume, makes them stick to the snow better and helps reduce the melt/freeze cycle you mention. You can thicken sugar water by boiling it longer, or by adding a thickening agent such as corn starch or ThickenUp Clear Food Thickener, Unflavored https://www.walmart.com/ip/Resource-Thi ... /186556300. It's worth a try! Please report back your findings.
Florida shaver

Mon Sep 25, 2017 1:09 pm

Thanks for the reply! I've tried xanthan gum, the ingredient in ThickenUp, but didn't get a successful result. I haven't tried a starch, though, that's a good idea. I'll try that next.

When you say to thicken a sugar syrup by boiling, is it to boil off excess water or does the longer exposure to heat cause change in the sugar?

I'm planning to test experiment quite a bit with syrups, with the end goal of making shaved ice with good texture with fresh fruit and liquor based syrups. I'm happy to post my results as I find them if anyone's interested.
Posts: 90
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2014 1:17 pm

Tue Sep 26, 2017 5:16 am

I believe there is general interest in a less sweet, but natural, syrup. We were called out by a famous chef one day for serving sugar to his kids, and we also try to hide our on-site sugar water production as much as possible, as not everybody likes seeing that there are 5 lbs of sugar in a gallon of syrup! We bring a couple of small bottles of store-bought Sugar Free syrup, but the taste is not great.
The Kona-Ice people have a line of syrups (not available for home purchase), called "Fruit First" that uses pear juice in place of some of its sugar. It also contains some stevia. It has reduced the carbs from sugars to just 5.9 grams per oz. of syrup, from 14 in their regular syrup. They also have Vita-Blend, at 10 grams, which has no fruit, but adds vitamins and replaces some of the cane sugar with stevia. I would suggest trying replacing some of your sugar with pear juice.

Taking a 2nd look at this, I don't think boiling sugar water will do what you want. By the way, we don't boil ours at all, using cold water when making sugar water onsite, and warm tap water if mixing the day before and refrigerating it overnight.
If boiling sugar and water is, as some say, just evaporating the water away to supersaturate it with sugar, this is not at all what you are looking for, as you want more thickness but less sweetness.
I found one place that says "When you heat the water and the sugar, it breaks down the sugar into its two sugars (glucose and fructose), which results in the syrup being sweeter than what it would be by just dissolving the sugar in the water." If that's true, that's the opposite of what you want.
So, I guess boiling really doesn't buy you anything if you are looking for a less sweet syrup, unless you find a way to keep the thickness of the simple syrup and reduce the sweetness. One possibility (besides adding a thickener or pear juice) is to substitute brown sugar for all or part of the white sugar. It contains molasses and is less sweet. It will affect the color though, and probably the taste, too, but is worth a try. Not sure about the US, but in Canada we have both yellow and brown sugar, with yellow having less molasses.

Tue Sep 26, 2017 1:10 pm

Aloha Florida Shaver,

I've had good results with Xantham gum. Typically I use 1tsp per gallon. It doesn't come out as thick as simple syrup but it's certainly not as runny as water either.

What was your process for using the xantham gum? I've mixed it in a mixer with a large amount of water as well as separately in a blender with a smaller amount of water and incorporated it with more water later, with the same result.
Florida shaver

Tue Sep 26, 2017 8:33 pm


That interest makes sense, I'd imagine there would be a good market for a natural syrup if it could produce good flavor and texture. I ended up cooking my last batch of simple syrup pretty long, but next time I will make it at room temp.

Thanks for the suggestion about Kona's Fruit First syrups, I hadn't heard of them. It looks like they use maltodextrin, xanthan gum, and acacia gum as thickeners. I have maltodextrin and xanthan gum, I'll have to see if I can find acacia.

I've never actually tasted pear juice and don't much about it. Do you think it would be good for for texture or as a naturally sweet, neutrally flavored base to add flavor to?

In the US, we have white sugar (pure sucrose), brown sugar (processed white sugar with molasses added back in), and 'natural' sugars like turbinado. I used turbinado in a chai syrup I made last week, but it had the same texture problems at the sweetness level I wanted.

I used a blender and mixed water with 1% xanthan gum by weight. This was much too thick so I diluted it down, testing it as I thinned it out. Once it was thin enough to not simply pool on the surface of the snow, it melted and refroze the snow and gave me a crunchy product.

I suspect it was still above 1 tsp/gal, so I will try it again at the ratio you used. I appreciate you posting your recipe, it is very nice to know someone has succeeded at something similar to what I'm attempting. Do you add anything else that would change the viscosity of your mix? Can you tell a difference in texture between the xanthan gum based syrups and your traditional syrups?

Wed Mar 20, 2019 2:48 pm

Any update on this recipe?
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