Also known as malt sugar, maltose is formed by uniting two units of glucose that provide the first link in a process that eventually results in the creation of starch. It is an important component in the process of creating fermented barley that in turn can be used to brew beer. Adding in a third unit of glucose produces a sugar that is known as maltotriose, while further units make it possible to produce maltodextrins. All these steps create concentrations of sweet product that can be used in a number of different food applications, in addition to producing beer.
Creating maltose in nature is not difficult at all. Using barley as the base, the process begins with allowing the grain to germinate. After a certain amount of time, which varies depending on how the malted barley will be used, it is heated to stop the germination process. Malting the germinated barley helps to increase the concentration of amylase enzymes in the material. When the grain is combined with water and heated, the amylase breaks down the starch in the grain to produce maltose.
The produced maltose is added to yeast as the fermentation process continues. Water-soluble sugar forms and when introduced into the liquid stages of the process helps to release both ethanol and carbon dioxide. Assuming the mix of sugar and the yeast is correct, the beer that results from the process will be smooth, full bodied, and tasteful.
Maltose can also be artificially created in a laboratory. This is accomplished by heating the medium with the addition of a strong acid for roughly ten minutes. Because heating can accelerate the process of preparing maltose for use in the creation of beverages, many large-scale producers choose to use this method as a means of creating large batches of product.
Maltose is not a substance that should be consumed as a separate sweetener in the same manner as table sugar. However, it is an excellent additive to many different types of packaged foods, including non-alcoholic beverages.