Friday, September 5, 2008

XYLITOL MINTS

These are really easy!!!
And to keep it more frugal, I break them into teeny pieces after they harden! ;-)

You can make larger batches but a small one like this will yield about 1 to 1.5 cups of mints.

1/2 cup Xylitol
1/4 cup water
peppermint extract

Bring water to a boil and stir in xylitol
Boil for approx. 12 minutes until hard crack stage on candy thermometer.
(I don' t have one for candy so I drip it into a cup of cold water. You want it past the stage of a soft chewy ball. You want it to be hardened quickly in the cold water.)
Remove from heat and add several drops of peppermint extract. Approx. 1/8 to 1/4 t.

You can see in the pics below that I simply used a spoon to drip onto brown paper. (It will make more than this.;) And hopefully you can see in the second picture, that the candy will begin to change color as it cools. It will turn from a murky clear to white.
And once it hardens, it turns a pretty and crunchy white!


They will be messy and sticky until they harden. They will come off the brown paper once they harden but they may LOOK set up and white,but still be liquid underneath so allow a couple of hours to dry well.
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For more info on the benefits of Xylitol please read HERE AT TAMMY'S !

*Mommies, be careful, this is reallllllly hot!

35 comments:

Denai said...

OH, the dentist told my DH to get the xylitol mints they sell... but they are super spendy... SOOo, where do you get xylitol??? I am just wondering! THANKS so much... I just love your blog!

Donna said...

Denai,
I buy xylitol from a health food store--it's not cheap but still better than buying the pre-packaged mints and gum.

You can just use a pinch of the xylitol sugar instead of the mints and stuff. I keep it in an old Parmesan shaker and sprinkle a pinch in the kids' hands after they eat.
They think it's so cool to get "sugar" after they eat!

Also, you could check at Wal-Mart or whereve you shop, my oldest DS buys Trident or somethig like that with the xylitol in it.(Still cheaper than purchasing through the dentist.)

SewInLove said...

Thanks so much for your answer! I will look into that for my DH!

Anonymous said...

I've tried this recipe twice, but neither time did the xylitol drops on the paper form nice white hard crystals in two hours. I even tried putting one paper of drops overnight in the freezer, with no luck. Both batches of blobs were either still semi-soft, or partially crystallized after a day or so.

I believe I followed the recipe carefully, letting the water and xylitol mixture boil for 8 minutes. I'm at sea level here, so I think the temperature was definitely very hot. I used an immersion thermometer and it said the temperature was well over 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Do you think the mixture got too hot? When I dropped a bit into cold water, it didn't form a ball or seem to harden at all. Any suggestions about what I can do to get this recipe to work?

I used 1/4 tsp of peppermint flavor from a health food store for flavoring. It's list of ingredients says: Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Peppermint Oil. Was it the oil in the flavoring that prevented the crystallization?

Donna said...

Anonymous,
I'm so sorry this recipe hasn't worked for you this far. I know xylitol isn't cheap!
I have used it several times and have no trouble with it, I am in TN in a slightly higher elevation.

I boil the mix for 12 minutes, not 8 as you said that you were doing. Those extra four minutes COULD solve the problem.
You may even need to go up to 15 but if you drop it in water and it doesn't harden quickly, its not ready. :-)

The oil in your peppermint might have affected it, but I couldn't say for sure.
I use a kind bought at your average supermarket and those typically have only peppermint oil and/or alcohol.
If you can't get that kind, I would consider not using any just to see if it could be some of the problem.

Also, you could try halving my recipe until you determine what the problem could be BUT just be sure that you
are using twice as much xylitol as water. My recipe is 1/4 cup water and 1/2 cup xylitol- this is most important!
Proper ratio!!!

It shouldn't take overnight to set up, however it could take more than a couple of hours but I would say no more than 4 to 6, if the inside of your home is 72 or below.

I really think the problem could be that you need to boil it a little longer. Try going the extra 4 minutes (for the 12 that the recipe calls for:) or until it hardens when dripped in cold water.
I think and hope that will fix it!!!
-it might be the oil, but I really think its the boiling time and/or an improper sugar to water ratio.

Please let me know if that works for you!!! I sincerely hope the next batch is perfect!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the help! I boiled it for 12 minutes instead of 8 minutes, and the crystals came out fine. I guess the digital thermometer I used was getting confused by the bubbles boiling up, and was telling me the water/xylitol solution was hotter than it really was. I was careful to get the water/xylitol ratio correct.

I tried dropping the hot solution onto a cookie pan, and after they dried they were very easy to scrape off and into a jar. I will use 12 minutes from now on, and also try using supermarket flavors, which use alcohol instead of sunflower oil in the ingredients. The xylitol crystals are yummmy!

Again, thanks so much for your prompt reply. We'll save a lot of money over the cost of store-bought xylitol mints.

Donna said...

Anonymous,
Ah! So glad that worked for you!!!!!
Thanks for letting me know!

Another thing that I'm doing with my older kids is giving them an empty Tic-Tac box so they can have a little shake of xylitol or a mint of xylitol- no matter where they are! :-) I'm trying to get them to take just a "pinch" after they eat anything- snacks, meals, etc

I also keep it in am empty Parmesan shaker on the table for after meals.

Anonymous said...

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Dan and Tara said...

Um...so, I just attempted this recipe and smoked our whole house up. We had to take it off the heat finally and just dump it outside because we could hardly see or breathe. I had the stove on high (is it supposed to be on a lower temp?) and it boiled fine for about 2-4 minutes before it started smoking with a burning smell. And when this started, it also stopped boiling. Has this happened to you before? I'm really confused. What kind of pot does it need to be in? Ours was a stainless steel pot. I'm so sad it didn't work! Oh, and do you stir it during the process? Do you put a lid on it or leave it off?

Unknown said...

Your instructions are based on making candy with sugar. I believe the reason we add water to sugar is that typical kitchens don't provide a good way to maintain a cooking vessel at the melting point of sugar.

However, Xylitol has a melting point of 93-96C, that is to say, below the boiling point of water. So I tried melting Xylitol crystals in a small double boiler using a conventional electric burner set to low. It melted perfectly into a clear liquid with the consistency of corn syrup, no stirring needed.

I was then able to add some peppermint extract, stir, and pour into silicon molds. After cooling, some of the xylitol remained a liquid, so I threw in a few grains of xylitol to serve as seeds for crystallization.

In the future, I'll try using dry flavoring agents, like ground up cinnamon. My approach doesn't get rid of the water or alcohol, so the resulting product isn't as hard as commercial candy.

Donna said...

Dan and Tara,
I'm not sure what happened for you. You need to use a good sized pot when boiling anything like a sugar-syrup. I use stainless, never cover (it could boil over), and yes I do stir. I've never had that sort of trouble, sorry. You would also not want to go all the way to high heat when boiling sugar-syrup. You would want to use medium to medium low. ..It takes longer, but works very well. I hope you try again and it works out better! Good luck! :)

Donna said...

Anony,
Actually, this is exactly the way that I've made these multiple times and they've worked very well. I've had several readers who had good success with them too. You are correct that they don't get rock hard. They stay crisp and kinda crunchy.

I've never had trouble with the liquid to xylitol ratio, but boiling it for 12 minutes causes some evaporation I'm sure.

I do know that different elevations and climates can cause a need to change the ratio some for some recipes, not sure this would be one, but perhaps.

Either way, it's a great frugal way to make your own little mints! I hope you get it tweaked just the way you like it!- Please come back and share when you do!

Dan and Tara said...

Thanks for your comment back... it must have been the temp then...I had it on high so it would boil, but the water must have completely boiled out of it or something, causing the burning smell. I'll try it again on medium heat.

One more question... have you found any easy methods to drop them into mints from the pot? Just nervous about using a spoon, thinking I'll drip it everywhere...and does the liquid in the pot harden if you don't finish very quickly? Thanks, again!

Donna said...

Dan and Tara,
You could use a ladle. I use a spoon because I don't want them to be very big. I also keep my pot over the paper as I'm spooning it out....any drips, I'll add to, to make them big enough to be another mint :)

No, it doesn't harden too quickly. In fact, you will see that you have to 'dry' the mints a bit for them to 'set up'. (If you were making regular sugar candy, that would be a factor, but not so much with the xylitol.)

I wish you the best of success with it! Hope you'll let me know when you get it just right!
(Hope you don't smoke up the house again! ;-)

Dan and Tara said...

Well, I tried it a second time and this is what happened:

I used a med-med/low setting the whole time. I continuously stirred it. With about 2-3 minutes left (of the 12) it stopped boiling again and started to smell like burning a little bit. I tested it to see if it was at the hard rock candy stage by dropping it in the water, but it didn't form a ball at all. I left it on the stove a little longer, even though it wasn't boiling, so probably 13 minutes or so total, and finished making them as directed, even though they weren't ever forming the hard ball in the cold water. They took about 24 hours to dry completely and then they were actually fine and they taste great! But I'm thinking they weren't done properly, still, as they should have dried much quicker. Any thoughts?

Donna said...

Dan and Tara,
I am not really sure why you are getting a burn smell :(

I usually use NOW brand of xylitol- wonder if the brand would make any difference?

Most of my mints 'dry' within a few hours, however, there are a few that took overnight. (The bigger ones;-) Maybe make them a little smaller?

If you're after the dental benefits of xylitol, this is still worth pursuing!

Don't give up! You're making progress Tara! :)

Dan and Tara said...

Thanks, I use XyloSweet brand which is 100% xylitol. Not sure if that makes a difference. The mints I made were different sizes, some really small and some larger, but some of the larger ones dried faster than the small ones, and some of the small ones never dried all the way. Strange, huh? Most of them still somehow turned out, so maybe I'll try again and heat it a little longer. Oh well!

Anonymous said...

I just came across this post in my search for home made candies using xylitol, and after reading through some of the problems people have had with the hardening stage, I've got a few ideas.

I've not tried making these candies, but I have done a good bit of laboratory recrystallisation and the hardening is actually recrystallisation (as someone earlier pointed out), so if that isn't happening (assuming everything else went well), it could be that there is a problem with contamination somewhere along the way... that is to say, maybe there is some residue on your sauce pan (oils or even small amounts of soap from washing), something "extra" in the xylitol (probably the least likely), or even just the water you're using (tap water, whether hard or soft is going to have minerals in it, in one form or another and depending on where your municipal supply comes from, the level of these minerals could be quite high). If your water comes from a naturally high mineral source (well water and ground water in general, often have high mineral content), try using distilled water instead.

Another thing a previous commenter noted about using a couple grains of xylitol as a seed crystal could also work well... toss a xylitol crystal into your candy drops and it can help kick-start the hardening of the candies (it gives the other xylitol molecules in the mix something to latch onto and build out from... occasionally uncooperative molecules need a bit of a hand to do what you want them to).

One last tactic to help recrystallisation (a very common one in the lab) is to use ice. If you use a cookie sheet lined with paper and your drops of would-be candies, you can add ice to a second cookie sheet (or baking pan... anything really), and place the cookie sheet with your candy on top of the ice.

And now I am off to make candy! Thanks for this recipe!

no.ordinary.moments said...

i made a hard candy with xylitol that worked out pretty well. i used 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 1/2 cup of pure xylitol, plus about a half teaspoon of coconut oil. i heated it up on a gas stove in a stainless steel pot at medium heat (about 4-5). it took about 14 minutes (i'm at 5400 feet above sea level, so i think it would have only taken 12 minutes at sea level) to form a soft ball when dropped into cold water. It got thick (i was stirring it), and then i took it off the heat and added a little vanilla extract. then i poured it out onto a non-stick cookie sheet. i sprinkled some xylitol powder onto it after it had cooled a bit, to stimulate re-crystalization. it took until the next morning to harden completely (if i had make it thicker, i think it might have taken a full day or even two). then it was basically a sheet of hard candy, not unlike the brittle part of peanut brittle. i broke it up into chips about the size of stamps. i guess molds would have worked. anyway, it makes a pretty good sugar free lemon hard candy. i want to find some good flavorings to try different flavors. i think the lemon juice was actually not totally ideal, since in the last minute of cooking, i believe the sugars in the lemon juice started to caramelize and that made the whole thing a sort of light caramel color and degraded the tart clean lemon taste a bit. if i had just used water and xylitol and added lemon extract at the end, i think it would have been better.

Donna said...

No ordinary moments,
Thanks for posting your results!

I know of one lady who used vanilla in the place of peppermint. I want to try maple and almond extract soon, but my fave would probably still be peppermint :)

Paul said...

I tried this using a candy thermometer and it didn't work - apparently xylitol and sugar don't do the same thing at the same temperatures - it didn't set at all after taking it to a "firm candy" temperature. I wanted to make a softer candy as the hard stuff I made by just melting the xylitol over a waterbath cuts up my wife's mouth. I shall continue experimenting but I wanted to post this so you could maybe change the reference to a candy thermometer!

Donna said...

Paul, thank you so much for posting! I'm glad to hear you are trying your hand at it and would be grateful to hear what works for you since so many have such varied results with this recipe.

About the thermometer: Several friends have made it and used that as their guide. As I stated above, I did not use one. I used the old fashioned trick to test my syrup. I've never had a problem making it that way, but as also stated above, it does take a while to dry out this candy and for it to set up.

I hope you find what works perfectly for you!
Blessings!
Donna

English Toothfairy said...

I've been having the same problems as Dan and Tara...I followed the instructions carefully, making sure that I had the correct ratio of water to xylitol and using a stainless steel pan. The boiling bit was easy initially but after a few minutes the mixture stopped boiling and started smoking instead...
After 12 mins on the stove, I dripped the mixture onto paper and left it to dry but it was still very sticky after 3-4hours. I then tried putting it in the airing cupboard as I though that maybe a warm dry atmosphere would speed things up - but it just got runnier again! 9 hours later & not much progress yet...

English tooth fairy said...

I've just tried again and I'm feeling hopeful that I've made a better job of it this time - at least I managed to go the whole 12 mins without filling the house with smoke! And I ended up with a pale golden mixture which seemed to have thicker consistency - sort of oily - whereas yesterday's was brown and watery! Just for the record, the things I did differently were:
1. This time I used the exact amount your recipe states using a measuring container marked with American cups whereas previously although I used the correct ratio of xylitol to water, I used metric measures to measure the amounts
2. I did not adjust the heat at all even when it stopped 'boiling' I just left the pan in place, I did not stir it or fiddle with it at all
3. I said a little prayer over it this time too....

English Tooth Fairy said...

Ooooh its definitely setting now...after 2 hours, my blobs are going white & crispy! As the wise words of the old proverb advise, I would say to anyone who is struggling with this recipe: if at first you don't succeed, try, try try again....! Thank you so much Donna. I wish you and all the other xylitol fans a very merry Christmas. xxx

James Thomson said...

yammi, I really Love Xylitol mints when i put it on my mouth its give an extra test thanks for sharing,

Moara said...

I've been working on my xylitol candy recipe for almost a year now, and I think I've finally perfected it.

This is my method for getting hard candies which don't fall apart into loose crystals when you put them in your mouth. I don't really measure, so it must be pretty fool proof.

Xylitol Hard Candies

- Melt xylitol in a pan with just enough water to keep it from burning (~1 Tsp).

- In a seperate, heat-proof bowl, add just enough boiling water to dissolve 1 packet of unflavoured gelatin. Add mint essence and food colouring.

- Continue to boil xylitol until you've cooked out the water (bubbles should slow down or stop forming, but before it starts to brown).

- Take xylitol off heat, and let cool a bit (otherwise it'll boil up the gelatin mixture because it's so hot)

- Slowly stir melted xylitol into gelatin mixture.

- Drip onto parchment paper (I find wax paper sticks). If you have no patience, you can just pour out into one big blob, and crack into shards afterwards.

Donna said...

English Tooth Fairy-
Thank you so much!I'm so glad you were able to get it to work for you!
Have a wonderful New Year!!!

Donna said...

Moara,
I'm SO glad you shared your method! It sounds great. I bet the gelatin really adds a nice texture to it. I will HAVE to try your recipe!
Happy New Year!!!

Tim McCormack said...

I've been experimenting with this myself:

https://github.com/timmc/recipes/blob/master/xylitol%20cough%20drops.txt

I'm using pure xylitol crystals + pure menthol crystals in a double boiler. No water.

The recrystallization step is hard! I finally figured out that the freezer is actually too cold for crystallization -- the mixture needs to sit out at room temperature or so in order to crystallize.

Donna said...

Very interesting w/ the menthol!

I've never used the freezer; room temp has always worked for me. :)

Thanks for sharing Tim!

Anonymous said...

Moara, looks good.. what are the quantities you used, please

Matt Willer said...

Great Post i love xylitol candy and mint its test i cant explain really awesome...

Anonymous said...

I just tried making this and made the mistake of walking away from it. I looked over after about 7 minutes and it was smoking in the kitchen! It had just started to burn. I temped it out at 482F and poured it into a bowl which cracked a little. Now the last amount I poured hardened within minutes and the first amount is still watery. I think it's key to heat it up slowly so that water has a chance to evaporate before it starts to burn. So make sure you lower the heat like I didn't.

Lynda said...

I had the problem so many others had of it burning and never getting to the right stage, despite following the various suggestions. I did however have amazing success with something in a comment.

I did the double boiler thing (with a saucepan and metal bowl) and melted just the xylitol, adding pepp when done. It set up in about 2 minutes and was ready to eat! Unbelievable!

I boiled the water, put a bowl on top with 1 T xylitol. Let it sit until it melted, 3-4 mins. It was still slightly crystallized in a couple spots. Then I took the bowl off the pan, let sit for maybe 20 sec., added 5 drops pepp essential oil, stirred well with mini spatula. Let sit a minute (was really crystallizing) then stirred with the spatula and it naturally turned into pea-size crystals. After another minute, I sampled. Perfect! And crazy easy!

Thank you for venturing into your discovery, otherwise I would have never found this!