Lost my taste for confectioner's sugar?

bbstx

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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debrak2008

Can you do another batch and let others taste it?

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bbstx

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! ;-)

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deegw

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.

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partst

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.

Claudia

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bbstx

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.

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pkramer60

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.

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bbstx

Good point, pkramer. Those are certainly things to consider, but I don't have a cold and I'm not taking any medicines.

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partst

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.

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sandy808

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.

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annie1992

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.

Annie

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kittymoonbeam

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.

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ci_lantro

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.

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grainlady_ks

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.

-Grainlady

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debrak2008

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.

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iris_gal

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.

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bob_cville

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.

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bbstx

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?

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partst

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.

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skeip

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!

Steve

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bbstx

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!

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amck2

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.

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annie1992

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.

Annie

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cookie8

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.

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shambo

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.

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kcann72

Its not you and your taste buds are not off a few years back the water bottling companies were buying bottles from China it gave the water a funny taste they were coating the water bottles with a chemical arsenic and american food companies are adding things to processed foods such as paint thinner start googling names of chemicals you CNT pronounce or spell on your sugar and things like cereal and cookies you'll have your answer

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Jasdip

amck, that's exactly how I'd describe it. Metallic tasting.

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kcann72


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triciabobisha

They addressed this on a recent America's Test Kitchen podcast- they recommended making your own (as suggested above) or there was a brand they recommended (can't remember if it was bob's red mill or king arthur but it was definitely one of them) for it's lack of off-flavor additives. They also suggested trying another kind of starch (i want to say potato?) if you make your own. It was an episode from about 2 weeks ago, if you care to go searching for it, and I apologize in advance if you become obsessed with the podcast in the process.

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Gina Patrona

same thing here. It tasted like perfume was in it. Second time I tried it and same thing.

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grainlady_ks

Has any one (but me) used powdered glucose (dextrose) as a substitute for powdered sugar? I like it for dusting (French toast, donuts, brownies, etc.), but it will make a glaze or frosting and can be used in baking.

In my effort to reduce fructose from my diet (fructose intolerance issue), I've found a lot of uses for dextrose. On the chart for sweetness, sugar rates 100 while dextrose comes in at 74, so not as sweet as powdered sugar. And the sweetness goes away much faster after you eat it. The real flavors of other ingredients comes through much stronger than when using sugar. Dextrose doesn't cream as well with butter as powdered sugar, but for a simple glaze it works well without that cloying sweetness. The longer you are off sugar and substituting dextrose when possible, the sweeter dextrose seems. Remove fructose from your diet, you'll have less cravings for sweets overall.

I'll also use Trehalose or a mixture of Trehalose and Ceylon Cinnamon for dusting.

Confectioners-style Swerve (ingredients: Erythritol, oligosaccharides and natural flavors) is another useful powdered sugar substitute. It measures cup-for-cup like sugar.

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Jon Raney

Re: confectioners sugar. I'm convinced some type of (implied or undisclosed) bleaching process is used on certain brands of the product and that creates a particular funny after taste

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ritaweeda

I've had the same thing happen to me - didn't realize others have noticed it, too. I thought it was something I did. Mostly happened when I was making frosting with real butter or cream cheese or both, thought it had something to do with that.

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CA Kate z9

I can't tell you how old my powdered sugar is - because I haven't used it in years - because it tastes like dirt to me. I had no idea this problem is so prevalent and it's just not me. VERY interesting thread.

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alexismh

I have come late to this discussion but if anyone is still out there, I've had a big problem with powdered sugar too. It tastes so chalky and unpleasant, and it's not the way I remember it tasting before. Since others are aware of it, I know it isn't just me. I remember the ATK podcast about the subject, but I can't recall what they suggested either. Bob's Red Mill doesn't sell powdered sugar, and I can't defend buying a heavy-duty blender to grind my own. I'm pretty irked about this. The ASR Group has under its umbrella Domino, C&H, and Florida Crystal sugars. Those are the big players in the US, and I'm pretty sure all three brands are processed the same way.

I baked a cake over the weekend and the frosting was so awful, I dumped the whole thing out. How discouraging!

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Barbara D. Caserta

all these comments - now it is 2020 & my granddaughter (with young tastebuds !) & I made a glaze for donuts with Domino conf. sugar & horrid tasting - thank goodness we tried it before we frosted ! - then added cocoa powder to help the flavor -still horrid ! - so finally found a recipe for cooked choc. frosting in a book with granulated sugar & it saved the day. What about wanting just a glaze & royal icing needed solely for decorating?? Just how do you make your own conf. sugar - would appreciate that if anyone knows ???. Bad enough she is gluten intolerant & we have to rethink recipes - but now frosting too ?? -

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cloudy_christine

The plastic bags the confectioner's sugar is in, inside the boxes, is likely to be the culprit. Plastic picks up odors very easily. I think I have noticed perfume odors when taking confectioner's sugar out of the box, but not in the final baked product.


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ediej1209 AL Zn 7

I too have noticed that Conf sugar just isn't what it used to be. Not only taste but seems to me it's a bit "grainier" when making frosting, I can't get a truly smooth fluffy frosting. I've used a whisk, a small hand mixer, the big mixer with a paddle and with the whisk attachment. And 2 or 3 different brands of sugar. I thought it was just me.

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ghostlyvision

The off taste to powdered sugar used to be a now and then thing but lately I'm finding it's *always*, no matter the brand or age of the sugar. I wonder if it's the type/age of the corn used in the cornstarch that's causing it, but whatever it is, it's wrecking powdered sugar. I'll have to find something else to glaze/frost with, this stuff ruins whatever it touches.

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Barbara D. Caserta

well then - a problem we cannot solve - SO DOES ANYONE OUT THERE KNOW HOW TO CORRECTLY MAKE OUR OWN POWDERED SUGAR OUT OF GRANULATED ??? - would be so grateful to know !!!

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plllog

According to Wikipedia, powdered sugar is just finely milled sugar, but in my experience, my very good machinery will make superfine but not powdered. Try it and see what you get.

Possible alternatives: Try an organic sugar that isn't packaged in plastic and doesn't contain cornstarch. Or even sugar that comes in a box, with a liner that feels more like waxed paper than plastic wrap.

These do exist. I just don't have a specific recommendation. I haven't had the problem. Yet.

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Barbara D. Caserta

thanks pillog - will try to find an organic !

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bbstx

King Arthur Flour make, make that “made”, a cornstarch free confectioners’ sugar. I bought it but I have not had an occasion to use it, so I cannot comment on the flavor.


ETA: went to the KAF site to get a link. I could not find any confectioners’ sugar at all on their website. My next search was for just “sugar.” I got some hits, but none were confectioners’ sugar.

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Barbara D. Caserta

Thank you - looking into organic conf. sugar now - quite a variance in prices - anybody tried these to have a preference In taste or performance ? - I see some have tapioca instead of cornstarch - esp. for royal icing - does it still work the same I hope ? - thanks everyone for your help and suggestions !!

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tigereye

This seems to explain it.

https://www.seriouseats.com/2016/03/organic-powdered-sugar-versus-conventional-baking-cornstarch-tapioca.html

I always thought I was doing something wrong, because my favorite frosting recipe didn't taste the same.

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Barbara D. Caserta

Thanks so very much - I read the info & will experiment with organic brands - good to know about the sifting - could prevent a royal icing breakdown !! thanks to you all !!

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blfenton

I'm glad I found this thread. The only time I use icing sugar (to you all - confectioners sugar) is at Christmas for my shortbread. The last couple of years they haven't been tasting quite the same as in the past, the consistency is off as is the flavour. I thought I was losing my technique.

It may have nothing to do with the sugar but next year I'll do some further checking and maybe use something else. The sugar comes in thick plastic but no box.

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CA Kate z9

I also thank you for the article. I too will try Organic. I wonder how long this has been going on... with the cornstarch? Reason I ask is because I don't remember powdered sugar tasting bad in the long ago.

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tigereye

I think it is a combination of changes in the cornstarch and that it no longer comes in the wax paper inner liner. Plastic gives all food an off taste to me after a very little while.

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bbstx

@tigereye, thanks for the link. I LOVE Stella Parks/BraveTart. Guess I can stop hoarding my KAF confectioner’s sugar without cornstarch. There is an acceptable alternative available!

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ediej1209 AL Zn 7

Tigereye, thank you! That article was very informative. You would think with all the great strides in modern baking science that SOMEBODY could come up with a better powdered sugar!!

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tigereye

I always thought powdered sugar was fine. We used Domino's 10X for glaze and buttercream frosting when I was growing up and even later when my boy's were growing up. It came in a box and was in a wax paper liner. I am not sure when it changed. I think it was in the late 1990's or early 2000's. I think it was 2005-2006 that I really noticed a bad off taste.

Of course the companies are messing everything up. Baker's Chocolate Squares are no longer squares and are not the same texture. Nothing comes in wax paper anymore, cereal, crackers, cookies, etc, it is plastic and the plastic will give it an off taste. Even cans and bags of granulated sugar are not the same sizes.

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CA Kate z9

I agree with all you just said, tigereye.


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khydier

I agree with you all too. So sad that many of these companies do not make things the way they used to. Smaller quantities and cheaper ingredients. I stray from making cakes with icing because of the taste of the Dominoes powdered sugar. But why dont cakes from a bakery have that same almost stale taste. Any brands that dont have that?

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plllog

Khydier, I was just now thinking about that. I had a cookie with hard white powdered sugar icing from a small local baking company and it tasted like it was supposed to. If, indeed, the plastic packaging is to blame, that might be the difference. They still sell 100# bags in multilayer paper with the sewn end.

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khydier

Next time I go in to a bakery I am going to ask the brand they buy and how it comes packaged

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khydier

Am also going to try one of the organic brands. Will llet you all know if it's any better 🙂

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Louiseab Ibbotson

Not the same thing but I occasionally drink Diet Coke and quite enjoy it, but if somebody gives me regular Coke, it has an odd ,very unpleasant taste to me. Almost a musty, mouldy flavour. And I know it’s just me, most everybody find the artificial sweetener to be intolerant

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Nancy 6b

Me too, Louiseab! I thought it was my taste buds!

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Louiseab Ibbotson

Interesting Nancy! Does it have that same musty taste to you? Or something else?

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Nancy 6b

That is the best description for it. Kind of a muddy flavor almost. Yuk.

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plllog

I think sodas, especially colas, get that when they're old. Maybe it's also the plastic (cans are lined with plastic). I wonder if the glass bottles are the same way?

BTW, I saw a picture of a 50 lb. Domino powdered sugar bag and it said "Poly liner" I don't know if that would do the same thing to it as the plastic film wrappers.

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Louiseab Ibbotson

Pillog, could be, but why don’t I get the taste from the diet?

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plllog

I've experienced the "old" taste more often with diet. I don't like sugary drinks. I'd rather have diet soda and a cookie. :) I don't know if that's what you've been experiencing with the sugared coke or not, but I'd call it musty. The sugared version gets it too. Like when I'm helping friends with spring cleaning and they shove one at me and ask if it's bad/old. :) I can easily imagine if people stock coke for guests that it could happen. But there could be something completely different there.

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HU-498705515

Hie some one said some thing a bout domino 🌽 starch sugar i will say this that all ways tastes like powdered dust but the domino plan sugar tastes like actual sugar but the domino brown sugar clumps very easily so much that you must like smash it up but regular domino sugar dose not clump

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