Agave is a succulent plant native to Mexico. Native people used the agave for many different applications, from clothing to rope and some native people still use the agave in interesting ways. One use that you may not have imagined is nails! But for diabetics, agave is another natural sweetener that is a healthy alternative.
There are many different varieties of the agave genus, so when I speak of agave in this post, I am referring to the Blue Agave.
Agave is a huge plant standing 6 feet tall and with a spread of 7 to 12 feet. This is the size the Blue Agave normally reaches by the time it is ready for harvesting. It has long, sword like leaves with a very sharp point. So sharp that natives used the ends of the leaf as needles. By biting the end of the leaf, the pulling out fibers, a ready made thread and needle could be (and still is in some places) used. The core of the Blue Agave looks quite a bit like a pineapple. This is where Agave Syrup or nectar comes from.
When the farmers are ready to harvest the agave for its’ nectar, all of the leaves are cut from the plant. This leaves behind the pineapple-like core which they cap with a stone. The fruit ripens or develops and then the entire plant dies. But don’t feel bad, from the base of the plant, new ones are started! Much like aloe, agave has ‘babies’.
The core or pina is pressed, then according to the process the manufacturer uses, it is steamed or perhaps roasted. This happens over several days to allow the carbohydrates to break down into fructose. The syrup is 90% fructose and 10% glucose in most cases. An enzyme is placed into the resulting liquid to remove the milky look and helop gain the consistency we are accustomed to.
What Else Is In It?
As long as you buy from a reputable source, nothing. No sulfur, no hydrochloric acid. No added sugar, no colors, no nothing, friend. Just pure, sweet agave. Agave contains minerals, though the amount depends on processing. It contains Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, and Potassium.
Why Is Is Good For Me?
Unlike high fructose corn syrup, fructose in its’ natural state is not a horrible thing for your body. Natural fructose and glucose in agave is absorbed slowly, giving it a glycemic index of 40-45. You do not experience the highs and lows as with refined white sugar or other sugar preparations.
Agave can be used in nearly every application as sugar. It is 25% sweeter than sugar, so reduce your measurements accordingly. (IE-1 cup of sugar would be ¾ cup agave). Some resources state that reducing oven heat by 25 degree will help bring better results to baked goods. Also, reduce liquids in all recipes by 1/3.
Want to try some? For $2.50 shipping and handling in the U.S., you can try Agave. I have no relation to this site, so please let me know if you try this brand before I get a chance!