Lost my taste for confectioner's sugar?

bbstxJanuary 1, 2014

Earlier in the week, I made Lemon Ricotta cookies. They are supposed to be glazed with confectioner's sugar and lemon juice. The first batch of glaze tasted odd. Thinking the bag of confectioner's sugar had been stored too close to a scented candle and picked up the odor, I dumped the whole thing and started over again.

Second batch had same odd taste. I thought something was off with the lemon juice (it was fresh squeezed that morning by me. all I could conclude was one of the lemons must have been off although they all looked ok.). Dumped second batch of glaze. Threw out the sugar.

I totally replaced the sugar and the lemons. Made a third batch of glaze last night with fresh sugar and fresh lemons. Again, there was some off-taste that was most unpleasant. I tried adding a bit of lemoncello, but that didn't help. It was just a waste of good liquor.

I am using Domino brand confectioner's sugar. Does anyone know if they've changed their formula recently? Is it the sugar or is it me?

Any ideas for turning a batch of lemon ricotta cookies into bread pudding? (These are very very soft cookies, almost flap-jack-y)

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Can you do another batch and let others taste it?

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 6:05PM
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Good idea, debrak. However, only person around to taste is DH and he'll eat anything (I'm not complaining)! His sense of taste is pretty dull. Although he hasn't smoked in 20 years, he smoked enough before that to permanently mess up his sense of taste...it was either that or his mother's cooking! ;-)

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 6:35PM
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I posted a similar question a while back. I had noticed that some sweet items that I previously enjoyed, like Starbucks iced tea, seemed off to me. Someone suggested that more companies are using beet sugar instead of cane sugar and that might be the difference I notice.

I'm not sure if Domino's sugar is beet or cane. It should say on the package.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 7:50PM
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I had that happen a few weeks ago. I made a glaze for some cookies and it tasted odd. I tossed it and made another same thing. I keep my confectionerâÂÂs sugar in a glass jar and probably havenâÂÂt used it for 6 months but all I could come up with is it was bad. Never has sugar go bad before I donâÂÂt use it often sometimes it may be a year or so between uses. Bought some new sugar, C&H, and it still tasted odd. I thought it was just me.

I also just bought C&H dark brown sugar in the bag and thought it smelled funny when I took it out of the shopping bag. HavenâÂÂt used any of it yet but the thought did gross my mind that maybe itâÂÂs something to do with the plastic bags the sugar comes in.

I think I may call C&H and see what they have to say.


    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 7:57PM
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Checked my confectioner's sugar. It is cane sugar.

I use confectioner's sugar just a couple of times a year. Nevertheless it was free-flowing, so I don't think it had gotten damp. Of the 3 different sauces I made, the packaging for one was a plastic bag without a box, the other two were in plastic bags inside boxes.

The first batch of glaze tasted so odd, I spit it out immediately. I truly thought I had mistakenly gotten something other than confectioner's sugar out of the cabinet.

How odd that at least 3 of us think confectioner's sugar tastes weird. Any conjecture on the cornstarch being the culprit? I'm grasping at straws.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 9:05PM
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Have you been sick lately and taking meds, such as for a cold? Or new meds in general? It can throw off the taste buds. I have had a cold since Christmas day and nothing tastes quite right.

I also have had to stop taking fish oil. It was leaving a nasty taste in my mouth and all food and drink was off. I mentioned it to my doctor and he agreed, I should back off the oil.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 9:17PM
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Good point, pkramer. Those are certainly things to consider, but I don't have a cold and I'm not taking any medicines.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 9:28PM
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Everything IâÂÂm reading says cornstarch is virtually indefinite. I have been taking fish oil for the past several months but I donâÂÂt have any aftertaste.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 10:07PM
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I've noticed the same thing, including bitter tastes in candy that I've enjoyed before on occasion. My thought is there is some chemical being put in and we are not being told about it. I've stopped using refined sugars now and am buying totally unrefined sugar such as Rapunzel brand. This has required experimentation with some recipes. I'm also using local raw honey.

I have also noticed most store bought flour has had a strange taste (and smell) as well....almost "plastic", and I've tried different brands. I've been grinding my own wheat for several years now and make my own bread. I've now switched to using soft wheat and grind it myself for all my baked goods. I won't purchase factory flour anymore...not even for cookies or cakes. Again, this has required recipe testing, but all in all I now like my muffins and cookies better made with fresh ground pastry flour than the store bought refined.

I'm not liking what is going on with our food.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 10:22PM
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bbstx, I don't have an answer but I can tell you that the same thing has happened to me, I get an odd, almost dusty or musty flavor sometimes with powdered sugar.

I've noticed that the Walmart brand always has it, the local "store brand" sometimes has it. I haven't noticed any particular other brands, but I've thrown out entire bags of powdered sugar because they taste off.


    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 10:46PM
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Don't give up on the fish oil! It protects your brain and your eyes and your precious liver which you need to function well to fight cancer and keep your metabolism up. You can get fish oil in thicker coatings that break down once they are passed your stomach so you never taste them at all.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 2:51AM
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Powdered sugar always has a weird taste to me. Kinda' like cardboard. So much so that I keep meaning to try making it myself. I've tried different brands and they all have that odd off taste.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 11:07AM
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Make your own with or without cornstarch, or a starch alternative, and see if you like it any better. If you use it immediately, you don't need cornstarch at ALL. If you have a high-speed blender, I'd suggest using it instead of a food processor, but don't overload the blender or food processor.

In some older recipes confectioner's sugar also went by 10X sugar, and sometimes 6X or 4X. That indicates the size of the screen mesh used to sift it. 10X is a smaller particle than 6X or 4X, so if you also have a fine-screen sifter, you may want to sift it a time or two before using it.

I had a friend call with a baking dilemma during a recent 12-inch snow. She couldn't get out and was in a baking marathon mode. She was running short of both powdered sugar and brown sugar, but had plenty of granulated sugar. She made the powdered sugar without cornstarch in her blender, and ended up making brown sugar with sorghum syrup instead of molasses because she was going to use the molasses in another recipe. So where there's a will, there's a way. ;-)

Brown Sugar
1# granulated sugar
3 oz. (by WEIGHT measure) molasses. Process about 1-minute in a food processor.

I need to see if I can use granulated honey to make powdered honey and will it work like powdered sugar. I've made powdered palm sugar - a lovely shade of ivory, but it has a rich caramel flavor, and not a perfect choice, but a good low-glycemic choice if used in moderation.


    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 12:59PM
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I'm always learning something here. I never really thought about confectionary sugar before. Didn't actually realize that is it just finely ground cane sugar with additives. I hardly use it so I think from now on I will not buy it but grind it in my coffee grinder I use for flax seed. Cleaning well before and after.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 1:40PM
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I tried to make pd. sugar in my excellent blender (old Braun kitchen machine) and it never became as powdery as needed for frosting. IMO. More like superfine.
Here's a cooked, granulated sugar frosting. Have not tried.

Fudge Frosting (newspaper - LA Times Sunday)
3 c. sugar
3 T. light corn syrup
dash salt
1 c. milk
4 sq. unsweetened chocolate (4 oz.)

1/3 c. butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Place sugar, corn syrup, salt, milk & choc. in lg. saucepan.
Cook and stir over med. heat until sugar dissolves.
Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, to 232-234 degrees.
Add butter & vanilla and cool to lukewarm.
Beat until creamy and holds its shape.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 5:27PM
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As an out of the blue question -- Is there any chance you ate pine nuts recently? I was reading something not too long ago about a bizarre condition related to eating pine nuts where a day or two after eating pine nuts (from China) your sense of taste becomes altered causing some things to taste bitter or metallic.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 5:56PM
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Wow! Bob, that is an interesting tidbit. If I ate pine nuts, I did it unknowingly. I really dislike the taste and texture of nuts and avoid them if I can.

What about the others of you who've had a similar experience with confectioner's sugar tasting off? Got pine nuts?

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 6:23PM
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Checking around the web I found several discussions of PS tasting odd:

Wilton website as far back as back as May 2011 had a discussion about PS smelling and tasting odd.

Cake Central July 2011 The confectioners sugar seems to be really strong, overpowering any flavoring I use, and it only gets stronger/sweeter to use more flavoring. It almost has an "old- I've been sitting in the refrigerator for a few days" kind of taste to it, and everything is in date, and just purchased...

I also found that most corn starch used for PS is GMO so that may have something to add since thatâÂÂs something new in the last few years that could change the taste especially not knowing if it affects the shelf life of the corn starch. Not that they would tell us if it did.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 7:11PM
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I have the aforementioned Pine Nut Allergy, they call it Pine Mouth, and for as silly as the name, the condition is really unpleasant. Nothing tasted right, everything is "off" especially dairy, very difficult to describe. Thank goodness it goes away in a few weeks.

Regarding the powdered sugar, I have always felt it tastes odd, but vanilla extract seems to mask it. I can't imagine that Limoncello wouldn't cover it up! You must have a very sensitive palate to whatever it is!


    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 7:57PM
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skeip, I hate to laugh, but you've got to admit "Pine Mouth" conjures up lots of ridiculous images, followed immediately by "bless your heart!" It must be awful but I guess the good news is that it isn't permanent.

I do have a sensitive palate, but I may not have used enough limoncello. I didn't want to waste good limoncello on crummy powdered sugar.

Seriously, I think I'm going to turn the cookies into bread pudding!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 8:36PM
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I will say that lately (past few years) confectioner's sugar has a metallic taste to me. It's something I note whenever I make a glaze or frosting that calls for it. I take no meds. I know tastes change as we get older, but it's interesting that this is the one food item I can think of where I've experienced this.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 8:41PM
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Iris, I've also tried making powdered sugar in the food processor and in the blender. Neither works well at all. Like you, I get something more like superfine sugar, but not really powdered, even if I add cornstarch.


    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 9:04PM
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I also noticed it but a couple of years ago. I did a lot more baking back then but it put me off using it.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 10:48PM
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I can't contribute anything useful to this thread except to say that for years I've disliked powdered sugar glazes for cinnamon rolls and other sweets. I always thought they tasted like sweet, creamy, white dirt. That's why when I make homemade cinnamon rolls, I sprinkle them with a crumb topping (similar to crumb cake topping). When I see gigantic bakery cinnamon rolls that are covered with 1/2 inch of glaze/frosting, I am not the least bit tempted. Rather than enticing me, they sort of turn my stomach.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 11:37PM
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