Agave

agave_tequilana_2

This is the agave tequilana plant. It can produce agave nectar, as well as tequila!

Agave syrup is a natural sweetener which can be found in the heavenly vegan gelatos at Green Cuisine.

Do you know where agave comes from?

What is Agave?

Agave is a succulent plant which is native to the hot, dry parts of Mexico, Southwestern United States, and South America. Of the many species of agave plants, agave tequilana and agave salmiana are among the ones that produce agave syrup. Interestingly, agave tequilana is also the plant from which tequila is produced. Tequila is made from the fermentation of fructose and glucose present in the sweet sap of this plant.

Agave syrup is composed primarily of fructose and some glucose, and is 1.6 times sweeter than sugar. Therefore, you don’t need very much of it in order to sweeten something. It can substitute sugar and honey, and is vegan and gluten-free.

How Agave Syrup is Produced

The inside of the agave plant contains a sap which is naturally sweet. This sap is extracted from the plant, filtered, and heated at low temperature. This heating process converts the carbohydrates into fructose and glucose. There is naturally a higher amount of fructose than there is that of glucose. The final result is the concentrated, sweet syrup we know as agave syrup.

How to Use Agave

Agave syrup can dissolve easily in cold and hot beverages, so you can use it to sweeten chilled tea, alcoholic drinks like daiquiris, hot tea, and hot chocolate. Instead of sugar, you can use some agave for your muffins, cookies, pies and cakes. Instead of honey, you can put agave on your pancakes and French toast. And of course, when you make your vegan ice cream, regardless of whether your ice cream is composed of coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk, avocados, or a combination, you either can use agave as the main sweetener, or blend in some fruit juices as well.

Agave:Sugar

For white sugar, 1 cup of sugar is approximately 2/3 cup of agave. Because agave is liquid, you will have more total liquid in your recipe unless you reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup.

For brown sugar, 1 cup of sugar is approximately 2/3 cup of agave, but you should reduce the amount of liquid in your recipe by 2 tablespoons.

Like all sweeteners, especially ones that contain calories, agave nectar should be consumed in limited amounts. It is definitely an excellent, bee-friendly, vegan substitute for honey.