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. It is usually derived from yeast—either from bread factories or beer breweries—and 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." Invert sugar is frequently used in commercial baking and candy recipes because it keeps baked goods moist for longer periods of time.
History of Invertase
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 its 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 and 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 Invertase is Needed
The exact amount of invertase needed depends on many factors, including 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.
How to Store Invertase
The invertase itself should be stored in the refrigerator for longevity. Cold temperatures slow the invertase reaction, so 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.
For most people, the small quantities of invertase they would ingest in candies is completely safe. It is possible to have an allergic reaction to it, however.
Health Benefits of Invertase
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.