CHESTNUT RIDGE, N.Y. — Adding sweetness to applications is not the purpose of caramelized sugar, even though it has sugar in its name. Providing color also is not its purpose, even though the ingredient has caramelized in its name and offers the benefit of incidental color. Caramelized sugar often is confused with caramel color.
“We have a word that is an inaccurate description of what the product is,” said Greg D’ Auria, owner and managing director of Chestnut Ridge-based Enterprise Food Products. “That in of itself has been the biggest challenge in marketing this product.”
Enterprise Food Products instead promotes caramelized sugar for its ability to enhance and modulate flavor in applications, including savory, meats, baked foods, confectionery, beverages, beers, spirits and pet food.
“Even though it’s derived from sugar, and sugar of course is perceived as a sweetener, its primary functions are natural flavor and taste modification,” Mr. D’ Auria said.
In high-protein beverages, caramelized sugar used at rates of 0.5% up to 2% offsets chemical off-notes, he said. The same goes for protein bars with up to 30 grams of protein. Caramelized sugars mask off-notes of pea protein, he said. The low usage rates allow for sugar reduction as well.
“You can use less (sugar) and still have a very desirable tasting product,” Mr. D’ Auria said.
The caramelized sugar is sourced from sugar beet, which imparts more of a strong, bitter flavor note, and sugar cane, which imparts more of a sweet, caramelized note. The beets are grown in Europe and are non-bioengineered/non-G.M.O. The dark brown notes work well in meats, marinades, sauces, beverages, teas, coffee and chocolate. The sweet notes work better in pastries and baked foods.
Enterprise Food Products offers more than 20 different types of caramelized sugar syrups and powders. To create the syrups, water is added to a variety of sucrose derivatives and put under heat, much like a Maillard reaction.
“Based on the time and the heat level, you get a wide range of caramelized notes, from very sweet all the way up to a heavy, dark ‘robusty’ kind of note that you would find in spices,” Mr. D’ Auria said.