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What are the properties and characteristics of corn syrup?
Question Date: 2013-01-10
Answer 1:

Corn syrup is a liquid that is made from sugars that are obtained from processing corn. Processing the corn means that the corn is mixed with acidic water, certain other ingredients (enzymes), and heated until the corn is broken down from hard yellow kernels into a liquid. This process is similar to the process that your body uses to break down food in your stomach to usable energy!

The corn syrup obtained from this processing is a liquid that is thick and sticky like maple syrup, but is generally either completely clear (like water) or mostly clear with a slightly yellow tint. Thick liquids like maple syrup, corn syrup, and honey are said to have a high "viscosity," where the viscosity is a measure of a liquid's ability to resit flow: higher viscosities mean thicker liquids. To get a better feel for the viscosity of liquids, you may wish to try the following (slightly messy) experiment:

• Get 2 small plastic cups. Please don't use a glass cup because you can break the cup and possibly get hurt!

• Get a small amount of water (low viscosity) and a small amount of a high viscosity liquid like honey, maple syrup, or corn syrup.

• Put a small amount of water in one cup and a small amount of the high viscosity liquid in the other cup (~ 1/4 of the cup should be plenty).

• Lightly knock the cups over and you should see a very large difference in how the water and honey/syrup spills.

Thanks for your outstanding question and please feel free to contact us with any other questions!

Answer 2:

Sweeteners are in many of foods we eat. Knowing that, the properties of these ingredients is a very important question! There are many ways of organizing traits like these, but I'll do my best to keep it simple. There are natural sugars in many places: fruits, honey, sugar cane, even wheat and potatoes! Corn syrup is simply a water mixture of the naturally occurring sugars in corn. Sugars exist in simple and complex forms. Simple just means there's only one sugar molecule, and complex means there are many sugar molecules linked together. Corn syrup is mostly a mixture of the complex sugar called maltose. This complex sugar mix is used in foods for many reasons: to add a filler (sugar is inexpensive), soften the texture of the food, and to add flavor (remember how delicious sweet things are!).

There are lots of different kinds of sugars, and they all behave slightly differently. They are all an important source of energy for biological systems (humans!) and they give our brains energy to be scientifically curious! As part of our health, we need to know how much sugar we are taking in, since too much of a sweet thing is bad. Take a moment to glance at the label on the back of your foods and see just how much sugar is in each serving. Thanks for the question!


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