What Is Invertase?

A Common Ingredient Used to Make Candy

Cadbury Creme Eggs on the production line
Getty Images News/Christopher Furlong

Invertase is one of the secret ingredients in the candy-making industry. It is an enzyme that is commonly used to make candy liquid centers, chocolate-covered cherries, fondant candies, creme eggs, and other cordials.

Invertase is usually derived from yeast, either from bread factories or beer breweries. It is sold either as a clear liquid or as a powder that can be dissolved in water. 

When added to sucrose (table sugar), invertase splits the sugar into its component parts of glucose and fructose, commonly called "invert sugar" or "inverted sugar syrup." Inverted sugar is frequently used in commercial baking and candy recipes because it keeps baked goods moist for longer periods of time.

History

Invertase actually goes back several years. Chemists in the 1800s were studying the effect of yeast on sugar and realized that before the sugar began fermenting it changed form. After much research, the chemists isolated the enzyme that caused this: invertase.

By the year 1900, the process for deriving invertase from yeast was commonly used. Over the course of the next 20 plus years, chemists found many uses for invertase, most importantly in candy-making. 

How Invertase Works

When invertase is added to sugar candy recipes, like fondant candy fillings, it gradually liquefies the fondant. This is one way of producing the liquid center in candies like cherry cordials. The reaction takes a few days to occur, so there is a waiting period when making liquid centers with invertase. This enzyme also makes fondant appear smoother.

Although it sounds like something made in a lab, invertase is a part of many different natural processes. It is what helps bees transform nectar into honey. And we actually have our own supply of invertase as part of our saliva. 

How Much is Needed

The exact amount of invertase needed depends on many factors. These include the strength and preparation of the invertase, the temperature of the environment, and the recipe itself. As a very general rule, you should add between 1/4 teaspoon and 1 teaspoon of invertase per pound of fondant.

Storage

The invertase itself should be stored in the refrigerator for longevity. Cold temperatures slow the invertase reaction. Candies with invertase should be stored at room temperature instead of in the refrigerator for the best and fastest results.

Where to Buy Invertase

Since invertase is commonly used in baking and candy making, the best place to look for it is in well-stocked cake decorating and candy supply stores. It is also found on many candy supply websites.

Health and Safety

For most people, the small quantities of invertase you ingest in candies are completely safe. It is possible to have an allergic reaction to it, however.

Invertase is naturally created by bees is found in honey; it has been shown to naturally boost the immune system and can help with digestion and gut health.