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Agave (Cactus) nectar (a natural sweetner) - any experience?

Agave (Cactus) nectar (a natural sweetner) - any experience?
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  • Agave (Cactus) nectar (a natural sweetner) - any experience?

    Post #1 - June 30th, 2006, 8:21 am
    Post #1 - June 30th, 2006, 8:21 am Post #1 - June 30th, 2006, 8:21 am
    HI,

    I have a friend with a family member who has a sweet tooth. Unfortunately she also has a restricted diet with sugars presenting a problem. Her refuge at the moment is jams and jellies, which she hopes could be make with agave nectar. While I have a specific need, I am looking for any experience with agave nectar.

    She asked my friend to make jams and jellies for her, which is where I got involved. We have been canning together for years with yours truly converting recipes to make them suitable for preservation. I am already thinking these will be freezer or refrigerator jams, rather than water bath processed because of potentially low sugar content, which I will be checking with a hand held refractometer.

    Thanks in advance!

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #2 - June 30th, 2006, 11:41 am
    Post #2 - June 30th, 2006, 11:41 am Post #2 - June 30th, 2006, 11:41 am
    My only experience with the stuff is that my Mom has a bottle in her kitchen that she bought out of curiosity. I have used it in oatmeal and on cereal, but I have never cooked with it. My mom has used it in muffins. The stuff she has is of the darker (unfiltered) variety. As I recall, it has a mildly earthy and tannic flavor (I imagine you would want the more refined syrup for jam). It is sweet like honey, but the consistency is much lighter, like maple syrup. Despite the name, I think it is technically a syrup and not actually nectar.

    I know next to nothing about making jams or jellies, although my mom comes from a long line of home canners (her pickled crab apples are wonderful with roast beef). Regardless, I don't think the agave syrup has the sugar concentration to thicken properly. My mom (a retired chemist) suggested using a calcium sensitive (low-methoxyl) pectin like Pomona's Pectin, which does not get as firm as normal pectin, but requires no sugar to activate (it requires calcium instead). I noticed the company that makes Pomona Pectin (Workstead Industries) has a "Jam Line" you can call for advice.

    Workstead Industries
    P.O. Box 1083
    Greenfield, MA 01302
    (413) 772-6816
    info@pomonapectin.com
  • Post #3 - June 30th, 2006, 2:34 pm
    Post #3 - June 30th, 2006, 2:34 pm Post #3 - June 30th, 2006, 2:34 pm
    I'm sensitive to the blood sugar effects of sugar, so I really like agave nectar. It's glycemic index is something like 15, but has the same calories as table sugar. To me it tastes just like a simple syrup, very mild, so it's a good substitute for sugar. It's sweeter, so you can use less of it. There is a dark and light variety, but I believe they taste the same. I've read that you can use it in any recipe that calls for honey.

    I also read that in jams, you can't substitute it for all of the sugar because it won't gel right, but the Pomona's Pectin would help with that(they recommend using agave nectar on their website). You should follow a recipe that specifically calls for honey or agave, so you get the exact ratio right. I did find some recipes for jams made with all honey, so you could probably follow those and use the agave.
    http://www.motherearthnews.com/DIY/1973 ... With_Honey

    Here is one recipe for apple jelly that uses agave:
    http://www.blueagavenectar.com/AgaveRec ... mjelly.htm

    I don't like chemical sugar substitutes, and while searching for natural sweetener ideas a while back I found this website:
    http://www.sweetsavvy.com/
    It's a great site that has lots of info on all the natural sweeteners, including agave, along with plenty of recipes for each kind. The lady-Deborah Lynn Dadd-researched each sweetner and developed the recipes herself. Your friend might find some good ideas for naturally sweetened desserts there.

    Good luck!
  • Post #4 - July 6th, 2022, 4:04 pm
    Post #4 - July 6th, 2022, 4:04 pm Post #4 - July 6th, 2022, 4:04 pm
    Image
    I am tired of trying to deal with honey and its tendency to seize up. This agave sweetener never does.
  • Post #5 - July 6th, 2022, 5:06 pm
    Post #5 - July 6th, 2022, 5:06 pm Post #5 - July 6th, 2022, 5:06 pm
    Wondering what problem your friend has with sugars that wouldn't be a problem with agave nectar. Agave nectar is actually much higher in fructose than high fructose corn syrup. Most natural-cures doctors now warn against agave. But of course that probably depends on what the issue is with sugar. And can the sweet-tooth issue be solved with Stevia or Monk fruit -- which don't present the heavy hit of fructose but still make things sweet.

    And the sweetener Swerve is popular with people on Keto, as it has almost no carbs.

    But agave syrup is not a health food.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #6 - July 6th, 2022, 6:53 pm
    Post #6 - July 6th, 2022, 6:53 pm Post #6 - July 6th, 2022, 6:53 pm
    lougord99 wrote:Image
    I am tired of trying to deal with honey and its tendency to seize up. This agave sweetener never does.

    Do you mean crystalize? If so, neither does Tupelo honey and it tastes way better than agave.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #7 - July 6th, 2022, 9:15 pm
    Post #7 - July 6th, 2022, 9:15 pm Post #7 - July 6th, 2022, 9:15 pm
    Cynthia wrote:Wondering what problem your friend has with sugars that wouldn't be a problem with agave nectar. Agave nectar is actually much higher in fructose than high fructose corn syrup. Most natural-cures doctors now warn against agave. But of course that probably depends on what the issue is with sugar. And can the sweet-tooth issue be solved with Stevia or Monk fruit -- which don't present the heavy hit of fructose but still make things sweet.

    And the sweetener Swerve is popular with people on Keto, as it has almost no carbs.

    But agave syrup is not a health food.

    That was circa 2006 response to a problem. My friend was making canned food for her daughter-in-law (DIL) who had recently fought off breast cancer. DIL wanted no processed sugar and thought this was a better option.

    Would she still believe this today, who knows?

    Regards,
    CAthy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #8 - July 7th, 2022, 7:57 am
    Post #8 - July 7th, 2022, 7:57 am Post #8 - July 7th, 2022, 7:57 am
    Cathy2 wrote:Would she still believe this today, who knows?

    Probably. The amount of dietary misinformation is worse than C*V*D.

    I have a friend who insists that HFCS will make her sick for days, but honey and agave are just fine (even though they have more fructose). When I tell her about the sugars in each, she insists "it's the processing."

    No, it's not. The processing doesn't change the sugars or introduce impurities, it only makes a substance easily available to be included in products.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #9 - July 7th, 2022, 4:06 pm
    Post #9 - July 7th, 2022, 4:06 pm Post #9 - July 7th, 2022, 4:06 pm
    JoelF wrote:
    Cathy2 wrote:Would she still believe this today, who knows?

    Probably. The amount of dietary misinformation is worse than C*V*D.

    I have a friend who insists that HFCS will make her sick for days, but honey and agave are just fine (even though they have more fructose). When I tell her about the sugars in each, she insists "it's the processing."

    No, it's not. The processing doesn't change the sugars or introduce impurities, it only makes a substance easily available to be included in products.


    Absolutely correct. As I often say, the greatest problem created by HFCS is making sugar really cheap. It used to be an expensive luxury. But people will believe what they want to believe. To be honest, huge quantities of sweet stuff is not great for us no matter what form we use.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #10 - July 8th, 2022, 7:15 am
    Post #10 - July 8th, 2022, 7:15 am Post #10 - July 8th, 2022, 7:15 am
    Cynthia wrote:Absolutely correct. As I often say, the greatest problem created by HFCS is making sugar really cheap. It used to be an expensive luxury.


    It actually worked the other way around. Sugar WAS cheap because of imports where labor costs were minimal. ADM was making HFCS but it was not competitive with open-market sugar. ADM and the Fanjul brothers were actively lobbying for restrictions on imports and the government set up a program to ensure that American manufacturers purchased sugar from American producers. US sugar prices were as much as triple the cost of imports from Brazil, which became a huge producer. ADM had pushed for price protections to make HFCS competitive and soft drink companies, always eager to shave pennies, switched to the now-cheaper HFCS. That's why companies like Brach's moved to Mexico because, aside from cheap labor, they could source cheap sugar from outside the US. As for the Fanjul's, their political clout became evident when it was disclosed that Bill Clinton interrupted certain activity with Monica Lewinsky to take a call from one of the brothers.
  • Post #11 - July 8th, 2022, 10:41 am
    Post #11 - July 8th, 2022, 10:41 am Post #11 - July 8th, 2022, 10:41 am
    Perhaps I should have said "cheap and reliable," because most sugarcane is grown in places have hurricanes, earthquakes, and political revolutions. So it was a little less consistently available than corn.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com

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