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Xylitol is a naturally-derived sweetener made from plant fibres. Discover the characteristics of xylitol, where you can buy it and how to cook with it.
Xylitol is an all-natural alternative to sugar. The substance derives from the fibres of plants and can be extracted from a variety of vegetation including berries, mushrooms, birch bark and corn husks. It's also produced in our body naturally. Its flavour is as sweet as conventional sucrose sugar, but it has only two thirds the calorie count. Pure xylitol comes in white crystals and looks and tastes like ordinary granulated sugar. It has been traditionally used in chewing gums, toothpastes and mouthwash as it has a strong sweetening effect but no aftertaste. From the late 2000s there has been a push to consume it instead of sugar, and its white granular form means it can be used sprinkled or in place of traditional sugar in cooking and baking in the exact same quantity.
Xylitol is produced all year round and is available in healthfood shops and most large supermarkets in or around the sugar section.
Xylitol can be used in place of sugar in any recipe that doesn't require the sugar to break down into liquid form - it is impossible for xylitol to caramelise even at an extremely high temperature and cooked at length. It is particularly good in cakes and bakes, sprinkled on cereal or used in tea or coffee.
While xylitol is a common sugar-free ingredient for humans, it is toxic to dogs.