Picture of Caramel Apples, ole timey style
Your great grandma didn't use corn syrup in her caramel apples, and neither should you! You will find all kinds of recipes for caramel and caramel apples, and basically all of them say that you need corn syrup for one reason or another. What you need is something sweet that has a similar composition of glucose and fructose as the corn syrup. Corn syrup is about half glucose and half fructose. The corn syrup you buy at the store is usually Karo brand syrup. Karo is a mixture of half corn syrup (100% glucose) and half high-fructose corn syrup (90% fructose). Giving it about a 50/50 mixture of glucose and sucrose.

Substituting a sweetener that is mostly sucrose (table sugar, maple syrup) or fructose (agave nectar, 90% fructose) will not work. If you do not use the proper substitute, the fat will separate out of your caramel and the caramel will either end up brittle, or too greasy to stick to your apples. Sucrose is a disaccharide of fructose and glucose; in other words, sucrose is fructose linked to glucose. With caramel apples, the glucose essentially keeps everything in solution. Sucrose has a completely different structure. If there is not enough glucose, the sucrose recrystallizes and the fat gets pushed out of the caramel, and you do not have that chewy creamy goodness. So what is the magical mother nature substitute for corn syrup? HONEY! Honey has about the same glucose and fructose content as corn syrup. It took me 59 caramel apples worth of experimentation, but at the end of it all, I came up with a repeatable recipe for caramel apples that does not include any corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup.

This video shows a condensed version of the process. The footage is from one of my experimental batches using corn syrup in order to observe the properties of that kind of caramel. Just pretend that I'm adding half a cup of honey instead of Karo syrup:

kimhill1 year ago
Great to see the alternative to corn syrup and why - I live in ireland and they don't sell corn syrup over here, only lyon's golden syrup which is a completely different make-up.
to sweet

who doenst love the yummy sweetnes of caramel apples?? i think i found someone who does!!
To sweet or not to sweet that is the question.
bowow08075 years ago
im wondering does this count for caramel candy too?
applestone (author) 5 years ago
I think that I did read that it wasn't necessary to keep stirring once the mixture was boiling.  However, I did not trust that advice and I stirred it almost constantly.  Sorry for the confusing info!  Keep stirring. :]
pat13dunn5 years ago
The previous step says after it boils, you can stop stirring. This step says keep stirring. Which is correct?
yngla5 years ago
Yummy... I´ve just made my first batch and I can´t wait to try them!
Klect9606 years ago
Gonna try it soon thnx
zachary9786 years ago
"It will be easier to make good caramel than to explain recrystallization to a disappointed child. " lawl
Kaiven6 years ago
I want one too! Wanna try this when we buy apples...
these look amazing I want to try these out so badly
canida6 years ago
Awesome! I want one. Thanks for the cold water test videos, too. ;)
schmeese's mom LOVES !!! them and you will to