Hey it feels like summer!

Mimi and Richard Farina..here they come!


subrosa said...

WW as I'm waiting for dinner to cook, I'll ask a question I've always wanted to ask. Why do so many people call syrup 'golden syrup'? Same with treacle, so many call it black treacle. Syrup is always light in colour and treacle dark. Auch it's my Dundonian upbringing, spare with the words.

T. P. Greatorex said...

In cane sugar refining, golden syrup is a combination of byproducts at the crystallization stage, but an equivalent product is made by beet sugar refiners by processing a sugar solution and breaking down the disaccharide sucrose so that some, but not all, is converted into glucose and fructose. This is either done by acid hydrolysis or by adding an enzyme invertase.

Typical chemical reactions are that the disaccharides are split by hydrochloric acid, resulting in a solution which is acidic. This is restored to neutral by the addition of lye, which is sodium hydroxide. The consequence is that syrup made according to these reactions contains salt (sodium chloride).

The glucose and fructose crystallize less readily than sucrose but give equivalent preserving properties to the solution. As a result, golden syrups are less likely to crystallize than a pure sucrose syrup (which is a pale yellowish colour). The high fructose content gives it a sweeter taste than an equivalent solution of white sugar; when substituting golden syrup for white sugar, about 25% less golden syrup is needed for the same level of sweetness.

The term invert comes from the method used for measuring sugar syrups. Plane polarised light passed through a sample of pure sucrose solution is rotated (optical rotation). As the solution is converted to a mixture of sucrose, fructose and glucose, the amount of rotation is reduced and the light appears inverted compared to light passed through the sucrose solution.

T. P. Greatorex said...

Treacle" originally meant any kind of a thick syrupy salve, and it is likely that bituminous seeps from coal deposits were used in traditional remedies, so this may have been the kernel of truth that inspired the joke. The Tar Tunnel near Blists Hill in Shropshire has natural deposits of tar oozing from the walls which could be said to resemble treacle.

Another explanation is that "treacle" originally meant 'a medicine', derived from the appearance of the Greek derivative 'theriacal' meaning medicinal (Gk theriake = a curative or antidote), so the various healing wells around Britain were called "treacle wells". Treacle later came to mean a sticky syrup after the popularity of a honey-based drug called "Venice treacle", and the continued use of the old form in the treacle wells led to the joke.

In Devon, on the eastern edge of Dartmoor, UK, the remains of mines can be found that are known locally as "Treacle Mines" since they show a glistening black residue that looks very much like treacle. In fact, the mines - always on granite - produced a mineral known as Micaceous hematite which was originally used as pounce to dust early ink to prevent smearing. It was later used in rust-preventing paints and was the last mineral commercially mined on Dartmoor. This definition of Treacle Mining seems to be local to a narrow geographical area.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Thank you for the very thorough explanation. I only had a vague idea about the differences myself.

Wikipedia erroneously states that Golden Syrup was invented by Abram Lyle.

The Ragus Company website states:

1882 - The Eastick Family pioneer the formulation of Golden Syrup

As long ago as 1882 John Joseph and Charles Eastick, ancestors of the current owners of Ragus Sugars, joined Abram Lyle & Sons in London.

Shortly afterwards, Charles formulated one of the world's best loved and most recognised sugar products, Lyle's Golden Syrup

Wrinkled Weasel said...

T.P.Greatorex - I have just visited your blog. Do you, by any chance, know a certain Thomas Fuller?

T. P. Greatorex said...

Fuller! That man was an intellectual charlatan! Did you ever read his compendium? Sent my nephew along for his interview at Oxford armed with that... boy didn't get in of course. I managed to get him a position teaching classics at my old school, no one will ever know he hasn't the slightest...