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If You're Up to Making Corn Syrup…

 How do you make corn syrup? I know what it is made of, but I would like to know how to make it.

 Corn syrup is not something that can be made in the home kitchen.

Manufacturers have been using a wet milling process for 150 years to separate corn into its four basic components – starch, germ, fiber, and protein. For the purpose of making corn syrup, we only care about the starch, but first we have to go through the other steps in order to get to the starch.

Once the corn has been cleaned, it is steeped in water at about 120°F (50°C) for 30 to 40 hours to begin breaking starch and protein bonds within the kernels. The corn is spun in a centrifuge to separate the germ from the rest of the kernel. The germ is where 85% of the corn's oil is located, so it goes through various processes by which the oil is extracted, filtered, and refined.

What's left – the fiber, starch, and protein – is ground to separate the starch and protein from the fiber. The fiber becomes a major ingredient in animal feeds.

The protein has a lower density than the starch, so it is spun off in a centrifuge, and is also destined for animal feed. The starch, which still has trace amounts of protein clinging to it, is diluted, then washed 8 to 14 times, rediluted and washed again in a centrifuge to get rid of those last pesky bits of protein. By the end of all that scrubbing, the starch should be more than 99.5% pure. Some of the starch is dried and sold as corn starch, but most is converted into corn syrup.

To make this, the remaining starch is liquefied along with an acid and/or enzymes, which convert the starch to a low-dextrose solution. The manufacturers can halt the acid or enzyme actions at various points depending on the product they want to end up with. In some syrups, the conversion of starch to sugars is halted at an early stage to produce low-to-medium-sweetness syrups. In others, the conversion is allowed to proceed until the syrup is nearly all dextrose.

Once it has reached the desired degree of sweetness, the excess water is evaporated and the syrup is refined in a series of filters, centrifuges, and ion-exchange columns. At this point, the syrup may be sold directly, crystallized into pure dextrose, or processed further to create high fructose corn syrup.

It is quite likely we underestimated your capabilities and the equipment you have in your kitchen. We meant no disrespect when we suggested that corn syrup is not something you can make in your home kitchen. Perhaps you will surprise us….

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