Agave Syrup is a low-glycemic sweetener made from the blue or wild agave cactus (Agave tequilana) of Mexico, from the same cactus family from which tequila is made. It is approximately 90% fructose and 10% glucose. A light sweetener, less viscous and more flavour neutral than honey, agave is at least 1.5x sweeter than regular white sugar.
Barley Malt Syrup is made from sprouting and cooking barley, then allowing enzymes to break down the proteins and carbohydrates. This results in a thick, dark sweetener that is 30% complex carbohydrates and at least 65% malt sugar, maltose, a complex sugar that is absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream than table sugar. It has a malt-like flavour and is about half as sweet as refined white sugar.
Brown Rice Syrup is made by culturing rice with enzymes that break down its starches. This results in a mild tasting sweetener that is 50% complex carbohydrate and 45% maltose, a complex sugar that is absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream than table sugar. It also contains about 3% glucose. Brown Rice syrup is half as sweet as white sugar.
Honey is a viscous liquid made by bees from the nectar of flowers. Made up of the simple sugars fructose and glucose, it is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream. Honey contains about 39% fructose, 31% glucose and small amounts of a wide array of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes and antioxidants. Honey should not be given to children under 18 months, because it can carry the dormant spores of Clostridium botulinum (botulism). These spores are harmless to those with mature gastrointestinal tracts such as older children and adults. Honey is one of the oldest sweeteners known to man and for centuries has been used as medicine. Pasteurized Honey has been heated to temperatures above 160 degrees F. Raw honey is completely unprocessed and unheated and can contain pollen, propolis and honeycomb. It is believed that honey looses its beneficial properties when heated.
Maple Syrup is 65% sucrose and is made by boiling down the sap of sugar maple trees. Canada makes more than 80 percent of the world’s maple syrup. The syrup is graded based upon its colour and flavour: Canada #1 grades are lightest and sweetest: Extra Light, Light and Medium. Canada #2 Amber is darkest. The mineral content of the grades is the same except for calcium, which is more abundant in the darker syrups. Native North Americans were the first to discover ‘sinzibuckwud’, the Algonquin word for maple syrup, meaning literally ‘drawn from wood’. Look for Organic maple syrup, which is free of formaldehyde, chemical foaming agents and mould inhibitors.
Molasses is made from the dark, syrupy “leftovers” from the cane sugar-refining process. It is 70% sucrose and contains most, if not all, of the redeeming nutrient value of the original sugar cane plant. Barbados Molasses is made from the first extraction of sugar crystals and is very sweet and lighter in colour and flavour and contains little nutritive value compared to the Blackstrap variety. Blackstrap Molasses is the liquid from last extraction of the sugar refining process (there are three extractions) has a very strong flavour, is rich in iron, calcium, potassium and B vitamins, as well as other micronutrients.
Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) is a member of the chrysanthemum family and is native to parts of South America and China. It has been used as a sweetener and flavour enhancer there for centuries there, and widely in Japan as a sweetening additive for the past 30 years. In its extract form, it can be up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, but has no calories, no carbohydrates, does not promote tooth decay, does not trigger a rise in blood sugar, and does not feed yeast and other microorganisms.
Stevia has numerous health properties. Stevia aids in digestion and in regulating blood glucose levels, as it benefits the pancreas. It contains vitamins C, A & thiamine, and contains the minerals chromium, cobalt, magnesium, manganese, selenium & silicon. Other reported effects are that it helps to: minimize hunger sensations and cravings for fatty foods, increase energy, decrease hypertension without affecting normal blood pressure, and shorten recovery time in illness and addiction.
Stevia is found in 3 main forms: Green Stevia Powder (tends to have a strong licorice flavour), White Stevia Extract Powder, and a liquid extract made from the white concentrate. A liquid working solution can also be made at home from the white extract powder. To make the solution, dissolve 1 teaspoon white stevia powder into 3 tablespoons filtered water and store in fridge in a dropper bottle.
Recipe Equivalencies: Note: results may vary
Stevia Powder – Green 8 – 10 times sweeter than sugar
1½ – 2 tablespoons stevia = 1 cup sugar
Stevia Extract Powder – White – 200 – 250 times sweeter than sugar
approximately ¼ teaspoon stevia extract powder = 1 cup sugar
Liquid Stevia Extract -8 drops = 1 teaspoon sugar
Home-made Working Solution 1 teaspoon solution = 1 cup sugar
Stevia-sweetened baked goods may not brown very much, so be sure to test doneness by other means. For baking, use either slightly less liquid or slightly more flour than in recipes used in sugar.
For more information and recipes on Stevia, see our book section.
Sugar Alcohols include Isomalt, Maltitol, Mannitol, Sorbitol, Xylitol and Erythritol (‘Organic Zero’). These are derived from fruits, vegetables, and fibrous plants, such as trees and sugar cane. They have up to half the calories of sugar and are often used in “sugar-free” products. Sugar alcohols, except for maltitol, have a very low glycemic index*, making them suitable for some diabetics (consult your physician). In large quantities, some sugar alcohols may have a laxative effect.
Click on the tab below to see how sugars comparein sweetness