Guide to Using Agave Products in Cooking

The popularity of agave has increased exponentially over the last few years and soon we will be offered agave products as an alternative to sugar not only in private places but also while we are eating our lunch in a restaurant or drinking a coffee in a cafeteria. Since it has been discovered and tested as a healthier substitute for sugar or honey, nutritionists, chefs, and many other interested people become more preoccupied with finding additional information about baking with agave or simply how they can successfully substitute agave for honey. Not many know that in Mexico and the United States there can be found 136 types of agave used for creating various agave products which are naturally used in desserts, baking, foods, and to create the alcoholic popular beverage called tequila.

The agave plant has been cultivated for centuries in the above-mentioned regions, but since its popularity has grown so much, on the market appeared three types of products which are preferred by most people to introduce in their daily menu as a substitution for sugar or honey. These types are: Agave Nectar or Syrup, the Agave Sweet Powder or Granulated Sweetener, and the Agave Inulin Powder. Each of these types has its own particularities and irrespective of which product you will use, the benefits are exceptional for your health.

The Agave Nectar is a thick and very sweet syrup. It looks and tastes very similar to honey, so this is one of the reasons why substituting agave for honey is not very difficult. However, a 100% natural Agave Nectar will be cleaner and more flavored than honey. The Agave Nectar can be used very easy as a sweetener, but you can also introduce it in desserts or in other foods where you would use honey or sugar instead.  There are two types of Agave Nectar on the market: the light and the amber Agave Nectar. The difference between these two lies in the fact that while the light syrup has been intensively filtered and has been lightly heated, the amber nectar is produced exactly on the opposite way. In terms of flavor, the amber agave nectar is more robust and intense. In case you want to avoid confusing their flavors, you can think of the light syrup being like the honey, while the amber one resembles very much to the maple syrup.

In addition, in terms of the agave nectar uses, it has been discovered that it can be successfully used in the confectionery industry for making candies, marshmallows or chocolate. It can also be used for sweetening jams and marmalades or to add a touch of sweet flavor in cocktails, juices, coffees or teas since it dissolves very quickly in cold or hot mixtures. Furthermore, if you are thinking of baking with agave nectar instead of sugar, it will work very well in cookies, bread, cakes and many other varieties of desserts. The Agave Nectar can be also used in the dairy industry for the cow, almond, coconut or rice milk, but it can also be used successfully in seasonings or dressings.

On top of that, if you would wonder how to use agave nectar in your recipes, even though it can replace sugar and honey without altering the flavor, you should take into consideration some proportions. For instance, one cup of honey or maple syrup is equivalent to one cup of agave syrup. If you want to replace other liquid sweeteners with the agave nectar, then you will need to replace one cup of brown rice or corn syrups with ½ cup of agave nectar, but take care to increase also with the same quantity the other liquids needed. On the other hand, if you are interested in using agave nectar instead of sugar, you will use 2/3 cup of agave nectar for one cup of white or brown sugar, but you will reduce at the same time by ¼ cup the proportion for other liquids. One other aspect you should take into consideration if you decide to shift to baking with agave recipes is that since the agave nectar bakes more quickly than sugar, it would be recommended to reduce the baking temperature by 25°F.

The Agave Sweet Powder can be considered the granulated version of the Agave Nectar. The production process follows the same steps as for the syrup with the only difference that once the nectar is obtained, it is dried to remove all the moisture inside and it is transformed into a granulated powder. Like the agave nectar it can be used as a natural and healthier sweetener. It dissolves very quickly in any hot or cold drinks and it can be very easily used in baking recipes. One important aspect that needs to be taken into consideration when it is used in baking is the fact that it thickens the texture of the mixture you want to create. Therefore, it would be advisable to pay attention to proportions. In addition, the powder used in desserts and other baking recipes helps in keeping the products moisturized for a longer period.

Finally, the agave inulin is commercialized as a powder as well, being a nutritious and healthier alternative to sugar with a mild and clean sweet flavor. It is extracted from the blue agave plant and since it appeared on the market, tests have shown that it has low-glycemic indices and since it does not create spikes in the blood sugar it can be considered a viable alternative for someone who is keeping a diet or suffers from blood sugar diseases. When using the agave inulin powder, you it dissolves very fast in cold or hot water. Therefore, you can add one teaspoon of inulin in your coffee or tea without worrying that it will not dissolve or change the taste of your drink. Apart from the high solubility, when it is used in beverages it increases the sensation of satiety and can be valuable for fiber enrichment. In addition, the Agave inulin powder used in bakery products functions like a water binder and as a very good prebiotic.

To summarize, substituting agave nectar for sugar alongside with the other agave products available on the market represents a very wise decision. They represent a very good alternative to improve your nutrition and it can be used successfully by all the family irrespective of the age.