While Consumers Refuse to Use it, Corn Syrup Remains a Food Stylist’s Secret Ingredient

For a lot of health-conscious cooks and shoppers, corn syrup is akin to a dirty word. In the United States (and beyond), high fructose corn syrup is a significantly less expensive alternate to traditional cane sugar derivatives. For this reason, it finds its way into sodas, candies, and just about every other food your mother once warned would rot out your teeth. Naturally, the empty calories and lack of health benefits attract some bad press.

It’s easy to denounce the stuff from your diet entirely. However, you may be surprised to learn that it’s not all bad. In fact, it’s incredibly helpful for food photographers and stylists looking to perfect images. Just as it’s a malleable ingredient that can be found in a variety of different food products, corn syrup for food styling has a number of potential functions within a food photography studio setting.

Commonly sold in United States under the brand name Karo syrup, the nifty product is both a thickening and thinning agent. Light syrup is almost completely colorless, making it the perfect candidate for a faux-glaze. Even conservative food stylists will keep it on hand to add a quick layer of gloss before snapping the camera’s shutter. Dark syrup (sweetened with molasses) can instantly add a little bit of color to food. With a little TLC, it’s possible to transform it into an instant”marinade”. Regardless of what the needs of your food photo shoot are, there’s a strong chance that Karo syrup can lend a helpful hand in one way or another.

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Light corn syrup is almost completely colorless, making it the perfect candidate for a beautiful, shiny faux-glaze.

The best part of all? You can use gallons of corn syrup without making a dent in your production budget. Available online or at your local grocery store, you can easily grab a 16 ounce bottle for under $10. So, while it’s tempting to condemn the corn syrup entirely, it still remains a food stylist’s secret ingredient.

Did you find these tips helpful? Do you use corn syrup on set? Maybe you some other secret ingredient? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Inside the Food Stylist’s Tool Kit

Have you ever looked at a food editorial or advertisement and wondered how they’re able to get subjects as unruly as spaghetti sauce or ice cream looking absolutely pristine? As it turns out, the art food styling is a precise one that requires quite a bit of patience, precision, and improvisation. In the Inside the Food Stylist’s Tool Kit segment Phoode examines the unexpected tactics stylists employ by digging through the tools they use on set.