Agave Juice Substitutions

Agave juice (or nectar) is the syrup derived from the agave cactus and has many more uses than just making smooth tequilas. Vegan diets use the syrup as a sweetener 1 1/2 times sweeter than sugar. Agave juice contains 20 calories per teaspoon, compared to 15 in white sugar, with many uses in cooking. It is considered a better alternative than sugar in cooking because most brands of agave juice are "raw" or unprocessed. Agave juice serves as a suitable alternative for other types of sweeteners.

Replacement for Honey or Maple Syrup

Agave juice maintains the same consistency as maple syrup. As such it is an excellent replacement wherever you use honey or maple syrup. Use it in teas and coffees as a sweetener. It makes a good topping for pancakes or ice cream. Spreading it on a toasted bagel is a lighter alternative than cream cheese. Because agave is sweeter, you will not need as much, so although it has more calories per serving, you won't need as much and will therefore be able to lighten you calorie count. The agave juice doesn't crystallize over time, giving it a longer shelf life than honey or maple syrup.

Ingredient in Jellies

You can make a fruit jelly using fresh fruit and agave juice with "sure jell" or any other ingredient containing pectin. Making jelly in this fashion will allow you to use fresh fruit and reduce the calories most jellies have with processed sugar. It also contains no preservatives, so while it doesn't sit on the shelf as long as something store-bought, it is a healthier choice that lasts several weeks in the refrigerator. Agave-based jellies are often used in diabetic diets because of the reduced sugar calories.

Ingredient in Baking

When baking with agave, you don't need to use nearly as much of agave as sugar. A coffee cake that usually requires a cup or more of sugar (depending on the recipe) can use only 1/2 cup of agave juice. When baking with agave, you can take advantage of the dark or light varieties to add depth of flavor where you really want to satisfy the sweet tooth. The dark agave juice, like molasses, has a bolder flavor and is good for decadent desserts such as brownies. One thing to be concerned with when baking with agave nectar is that you are losing some texture or bulk provided by sugar unless you somehow replace that with grains, fruits or other ingredients. There are many books that have developed recipes specific for cooking with agave, such as "Baking with Agave Nectar."

Keywords: agave, vegan diets, sugar substitutes

About this Author

In 2001, Kay Miranda had her second screenplay purchased, then started writing a weekly column in "The Messenger," with work appearing in "Xquisite" and "Valley Scene Magazine." Miranda earned a Bachelor of Arts in bio-psychology from the University of Colorado. Fortunate to play collegiate tennis, Miranda has extensive travel and coaching experience.

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