Posted by: edibleplanet | January 21, 2010

Sweeteners

I have become rather interested in sweeteners lately mostly because we have been getting some alternatives to sugar in at the request of customers so I’ve been doing a fair bit of reading up on the internet about them.
There are sites like this one or this one that give a lot of information about the various sweeteners with recipes and an interesting journey to follow too.
It has made me realise how keen we all are on sweet and the wide variety of plants humans have tried and found sweetening agents we can use.
I made a sweet date syrup after getting out a book on historical recipes from the library. It suggested that the date syrup is probably what is referred to in the Bible as honey. It was surprisingly honey like.

Yesterday I tried some organic agave nectar. It is very sweet and the amber one I think I would use as an alternative to maple syrup. The light one has no taste other than sweet and I can see the advantage of using it where I would normally use sugar in say lemonade or iced tea as it would just mix right in easily.
Brown rice syrup is not as sweet as normal sugar and I haven’t yet tried it for flavour though it seems to be proving a popular alternative, mostly in baking. It is also useful in salad dressings or marinades.
It will be interesting to see if Stevia increases in popularity although in some countries it is still banned from being a food additive, awaiting more research data.
I use a lot of white sugar in my baking. I like that I know it is sugar and that therefore this is something we should not eat a lot of. It is quite hard these days to work out what sweeteners are worth trying, with all the marketing hype and the value of finding something sweet that doesn’t have the corresponding high calories. I wonder if fixing an obesity problem by finding sweeteners with no calories is going about things the wrong way around.
But even sitting here I realise how many sweeteners I have in my kitchen. Other than normal sugar and caster sugar, there is brown sugar, honey, golden syrup(for all those yummy Kiwi traditional recipes), treacle(from when we decided to try treacle tart), molasses and maple syrup.
With all that thinking about sweet things, I might just eat another piece of my chocolate crunch.

– Fiona

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