25 May 2008
Brix Article Class Magazine June 2008
The brix meter is a small (usually) hand devise for measuring the amount of sugar in liquids or fruits.
It has been extensively used in the wine making industry and by fruit growers for testing the sugar content of the grapes and fruit to help (the growers always taste as well) determine the best harvesting times of fruit and vegetables so that products arrive at with consumers in a perfect state or are perfect for the process of vinification.
There are various types of brix meter, from refractometers that have a glass plate that you would place the substance you want to check between then hold up to the light, to the hand held type of brix meters.
More commonly nowadays you will find electronic hand held brix meters with a small glass plate that a laser will bounce off the sample placed on it and give you an electronic reading, the more expensive ones will also take into account the temperature of the reading as this can also make a difference. What the laser is actually doing is bouncing off the sugar crystals in the sample, the larger the crystals the bigger the reading, the more sugar content in the sample.
I.e. 25grams of sugar in 100grams of liquid will equal 25 brix.
It also quite interesting testing your spirits you will find some interesting discovery’s as it will also read other sucrose products. These are often used to create sweetness and mouth-feel in products that need a little helping hand.
But if you want a real shock test some of your soft drinks (if the scale of your brix meter goes that high!!)
In practice this can be used in many everyday applications such as checking your homemade sugar syrup or syrups in general, to create and check consistency.
I found this tool invaluable for making the liquorice syrup for my liquorice whisky sour as the liquorice could vary making the syrup sweeter. Also really useful if you are making your own liqueurs…..
Another use was when we were adding fruit with spirits in the sous vide machine or to macerate fruit in spirit as to get a higher degree of consistency the sugar content in the fruit is a major factor in how the flavour will be at the outcome as the sugar is one of the major flavour conductors. If you test at different times of the year, or fruit from different regions, the variances can be enormous thus affecting both the outcome of the flavour in your infusion or simply in your cocktail.
Strawberries are the best example of this as can be seen if you take a reading out of season.
The process is so simple that all you have to do is make sure the glass screen is very clean after each use and then recalibrate by using tap water, you then put a small cut of the fruit on the screen or the juice and press the read button. You will then get your brix reading. I have always found it useful to take more than one read (i.e. from several of the samples for a overall more balanced reading and not under a strong light source.)
Brix meters vary in cost but you can pick some up at quite reasonable prices, but they are I think an investment worth making!