Glossary

Agave syrup

Agave syrup

Agave syrup (also known as agave nectar) is a naturally occurring sweetener similar in consistency to honey, although slightly thinner. It is extracted from various species of the agave plant, which grows mainly in Mexico and South Africa. It is easily dissolvable, meaning it's particularly suited to use in cocktails and smoothies, and its liquid form means it's often used in place of honey, by vegans, for instance, or golden syrup. It's made up of fructose and glucose, meaning it has a much lower glycemic index than conventional granulated sugar (sucrose). Agave is sold in bottles and in various shades, getting stronger in flavour the darker it gets.

Availability

Agave syrup is an imported product, usually originating from Mexico. It is available in most large supermarkets in the cake and home baking section, or the sugar section. It can be ordered online from UK internet stockists.

Cook it

Agave syrup works well as a topping for cereal, pancakes or bread. It can also be used in place of honey in dessert recipes, although the difference in viscosity should be considered. While agave does have a low GI it is around 30% sweeter than sugar, so you'll need less to achieve the same taste. It works well in chewy bakes like flapjacks as well as sticky cakes and muffins - but be aware that you'll need to cook at a lower temperature (reduce the cooking temperature by around 10C/50F). Agave nectar is high in fructose, which is thought to be one of the most damaging forms of sugar, so always use in small quantities and opt to buy organic, raw agave rather than the cheaper, highly processed version.

Alternatives

Try honey.

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