Figs in Red Wine Debrief

Again, there’s not a lot to say here except that depending on the ripeness of your figs you’ll want to be judicious about your macerating time. As any fig lover can tell you, a good ripe fig is not only sweet and delectable, it falls apart quite easily. Part of the reason is that it’s not terribly firm flesh to begin with, part of the reason is that the little wasp hole at the end of the fruit admits bacteria, which are just ill-mannered enough to begin the buffet before everybody else sits down. So watch’em and poke’em to make sure they’re not getting too soft. An hour in the syrup might be plenty for a very soft batch of fruit.

Also, a little early morning food chemistry quiz: does anybody know what you get when you cook sugar with acid? Anyone? Anyone? Yes, you in the front with the tape on your glasses. That’s right, an invert sugar. And what is that again? Correct, a liquid sugar syrup that won’t crystallize. Why? Because the acid (in this case the tartaric acid that’s in the wine) whacks the table sugar (sucrose) molecules in two like Jackie Chan splitting a brick. The double sucrose sugar becomes two single sugars, glucose and fructose, small compact molecules that flow freely.

Now lastly, for extra credit, can anyone think of a flavor-related reason why invert sugars are desirable. No hands? Because invert sugar is sweeter on the tongue than crystallized sugar. Fructose is ounce-for-ounce about 20% sweeter tasting than sucrose, which means more bang for the molecular buck.

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