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The Brix scale is a measurement system used in food production to express the percentage of dissolved sucrose (sugar) in a liquid solution. It's commonly used in juice production, wine making, and frozen drink syrup/Granita mix to measure the amount of sugar that's present in the recipe. One degree on the Brix scale is equal to 1 gram of sucrose per 100 grams of solution.
The Brix scale is important when making frozen desserts like slushies or granitas because sugar content affects the freezing process of your slush machine mix. Too much sugar in the mix will prevent the slushie from freezing, and too little sugar will cause it to freeze into a solid mass and damage your slushie machine. By checking the Brix reading on your slushie mix before adding it to the machine, you don't have to second guess yourself or spend any time adjusting the mix as it freezes.
The ideal Brix reading for a slushie solution should fall between 12 and 14 degrees. Check the manufacturer's instructions for the recommended Brix level, because every slushie machine has different requirements. Some units will work with Brix levels as low as 11 and as high as 20. Premade slush mixes should be formulated to the correct range, but it never hurts to double check that the ratio of sugar to liquid is correct. It's even more important to check the Brix reading of your homemade slushie syrups to ensure they will freeze correctly.
A Brix refractometer is a small hand-held tool that measures the Brix level of liquid solutions.
Refractometers use the principle of refraction to measure the concentration of solids in a solution. Refraction occurs when light bends as it passes from one medium to another. The number of solids present in a liquid solution will change the angle of refraction, and the refractometer measures the angle to determine the sugar content in the solution. There are several types of refractometers that measure different solids, but the Brix refractometer is designed specifically to measure sucrose content.
Though the science behind them may be complex, refractometer are fairly easy to use. Follow these simple steps to determine how much sugar is in your slush machine mixture:
Premade slushie syrup is concentrated, so it needs to be mixed with water before adding it to the slush machine. Every brand has their own ratio, but most mixes are either 5:1 or 7:1. This means for every 1 cup of syrup, you need to add 5 or 7 cups of water to the mix. Make sure to read the instructions on the mix and use the ratio as your guide. We sale 5 gallon mixing jugs that help with measuring.
If you want to add other ingredients or syrups, try replacing a part of the premade syrup in the ratio. For example, instead of adding 1 cup premade syrup, try 1/2 cup flavoring syrup + 1/2 cup premade syrup. Because the sugar content of other syrups will be different than the premade slush syrup, you need a refractometer to make the perfect mix.
Some slush machines are rated to work with alcohol, but it depends on the manufacturer. For example the Vevor machine made in China, does not freeze mix with alcohol very well. Read the manufacturer's guidelines concerning alcohol before making adult slushies.
Yes, alcohol affects the Brix reading. Adding alcohol to the mix will cause the Brix reading to be higher, which means it will take longer to freeze. Using a refractometer is the best way to make sure your boozy slush mixes freeze properly.