Definitions

fructosan

Agave syrup

Agave syrup (also called agave nectar) is a sweetener commercially produced in Mexico, from several species of agave, including Agave tequilana (also called Blue Agave or Tequila Agave), and the Salmiana, Green, Grey, Thorny, and Rainbow varieties. Agave syrup is sweeter than honey, though less viscous.

Agave syrup is produced in the Mexican States of Jalisco, Michoacán, Guanajuato and Tamaulipas, according to Mexican laws pertaining to certificate of origin, although most is produced in Jalisco.

Production

To produce agave nectar, juice is expressed from the core of the agave, called the piña. The juice is filtered, then heated, to hydrolyze carbohydrates into sugars. The main carbohydrate is a complex form of fructose called inulin or fructosan. The filtered, hydrolyzed juice is concentrated to a syrup-like liquid a little thinner than honey and ranges in color from light to dark depending on the degree of processing. The syrup naturally contains quantities of Iron, Calcium, Potassium & Magnesium which contribute to the resulting color.

There is a United States patent for a process that uses enzymes to hydrolyze the polyfructose extract into fructose, using an enzyme derived from Aspergillus niger (black mold).

Composition

Agave syrup consists primarily of fructose and glucose. One source gives 92% fructose and 8% glucose; another gives 56% fructose and 20% glucose. These differences presumably reflect variation from one vendor of agave syrup to another.

There is some concern about the health effects of fructose, since Agave has a fructose content much higher than high-fructose corn syrup. Due to its fructose content and the fact that the glycemic index only measures glucose levels, agave syrup is notable in that its glycemic index and glycemic load are lower than many other natural sweeteners on the market..

Culinary use

Agave syrup may be substituted for sugar in recipes.

  • Use 1/3 cup of agave syrup for every 1 cup of sugar in the original recipe.
  • The quantity of liquids in the original recipe must be reduced due to the moisture included in the syrup.
  • Some chefs also reduce the oven temperature by 25°F in recipes requiring baking.

Vegans in particular commonly use agave syrup to replace honey in recipes. It is also a very effective sweetener for cold beverages such as iced tea as, unlike sugar and honey, it dissolves readily in cold liquids.


Agave nectars are sold in light, amber, dark, and raw varieties. Light agave nectar has a mild, almost neutral flavor, and is a great choice for use in delicate tasting deserts, baked goods, sauces, and beverages. Amber agave nectar has a medium-intensity caramel flavor, and is suitable for many desserts, as well as sauces and savory dishes. It is an excellent "straight out of the bottle" syrup. Dark agave nectar has stronger caramel notes, and imparts a delicious and distinct flavor to many desserts. It's best used in poultry, meat, and seafood dishes, and is wonderful as a topping for pancakes and waffles. Raw agave nectar also has a mild, neutral taste. It is produced at temperatures below 118 degrees F to protect the natural enzymes, so this variety is a perfect sweetener for raw foodists and the health conscious.

Notes

Bibliography

Mancilla-Margalli, N. A., and M. G. Lopez. "Generation of Maillard Compounds From Inulin During the Thermal Processing of Agave tequilana Weber var. azul. J. Agric. Food Chem. vol. 50 (2002), pp. 806-812.

See also

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