What is agave

All About Agave

While agave (pronounced ah-GAH-vay) is best recognized as the plant from which tequila is made, it has also been used for thousands of years as an ingredient in food. The nectar made from the plant is known in Mexico as aguamiel, or “honey water.”

The Aztecs prized the agave as a gift from the gods and used the liquid from its core to flavor foods and drinks.

Now, due to increasing awareness of agave nectar’s many beneficial properties, it is becoming the preferred sweetener of health conscious consumers, doctors, and natural foods cooks alike.

Whether used for sweetening an iced tea or as a vegan alternative to honey, agave syrup(also known as agave nectar), is popular on account of its extreme sweetness (about one and a half times as sweet as table sugar)and its thin consistency, making it very soluble. It is also associated with various health benefits.

6 Agave Nectar Reviews

#1 Wholesome Sweeteners – Organic Raw Blue Agave Nectar

Do you like sweet food and beverages but have grown bored of conventional sugar? Well, here’s a product you should try out! It’s called Agave nectar and it represents a natural sweetener that can be used for a wide variety of culinary purposes.

Whether it’s baking cakes, sweetening your tea, or adding a bit of flavor to your pancakes and waffles, this agave syrup represents a great way to not only get rid of the ordinary sugar in your recipes but also spice up your meals and drinks with a new and unique flavor!

The great thing about agave syrups is that they’re roughly 1.6 times sweeter than sugar, which means you’ll be using less of it in your cooking. This will not only make your meals healthier, so to speak, but also save you some money in the long run, as well.

In addition to saving your hard-earned money, this product is also Kosher (great if you’re Jewish), completely gluten-free, and also vegan-friendly.

Pros:

  • 4 times sweeter than conventional sugar
  • Adds a unique flavor to your meals and beverages
  • Low-glycemic value
  • Non-GMO, organic, Kosher, and vegan

Cons:

  • The cap makes it a bit tricky to pour (it can get messy if you’re not careful)
  • Some users don’t like the flavor

#2 Madhava – Naturally Sweet Organic Blue Agave Low-Glycemic Sweetener

If you’re on a lookout for a delicious, all-natural, and perhaps a little bit exotic sugar alternative, this blue agave low-glycemic sweetener can be just the product for you. Whether you’re a vegan, Jew, intolerant to gluten, or otherwise just have a sensitive palate, this sweetener can be your perfect substitution for sugar in your meals, drinks, or wherever on Earth you’d like to put it.

Since syrups made from Agave are naturally 1.4 times sweeter than sugar, using it in cooking or in sweetening your drinks, you’ll end up saving some money, because you’ll be using less of it. Also, this sweetener is gluten-free, as well as Kosher, so you don’t need to worry about using it with foods you plan on serving during religious ceremonies, for example.

Here’s an interesting piece of trivia! Agave-based syrups are often used in Margarita cocktails, so using it to sweeten up alcoholic beverages is another utilization of these cocktails. Of course, you can also use it wherever you would otherwise put sugar. So, whether it’s baked goods, cakes, drinks, pancakes, a couple of drops of this agave syrup is bound to make a world of difference!

Pros:

  • Made out of 100% organic agave
  • Kosher and non-GMO
  • Excellent substitute for sugar in cooking and drink preparation
  • Gluten-free

Cons:

  • The cap can get sticky and awkward to screw back on
  • The weight of the product can be misleading (it’s around 44 ounces, but not fluid ounces – just the regular ones)

#3 In The Raw – Agave In The Raw Sweetener

Vegan and Kosher-certified, this In The Raw Agave sweetener can be a great option for adding flavor to cakes, pastries, drinks, and whatever else you want to sweeten. As we already said, this product is 1.4 times sweeter than sugar, so by using this product instead of it, you’ll save some money, as well!

This whole juice is made out of 100% natural agave nectar, which has been extracted from organic agave plants grown in optimized environments for this purpose. So, you can rest assured that this product is 100% non-GMO. (And also, it’s gluten-free and vegan.)

The great thing about agave, in general, is that it dissolves rather easily in water and other beverages, even if they’re quite cold. What this means is that this product can be used for making various cocktails and alcoholic beverages, because it will blend in easily and even add some of its unique flavors, for good measure!

Pros:

  • Non-GMO product
  • 4 times sweeter than standard sugar
  • Great for sweetening foods and beverages
  • Dissolves quickly even in cold liquids (perfect for cocktails)

Cons:

  • Some customers complained about bad packaging
  • Some users find the syrup to be too diluted and light

#4 Steviva Brands – Nectevia Madagascar Vanilla – Stevia Infused Agave Nectar

As if Agave itself wasn’t tasty and brilliant enough, the folks at Steviva Brands have decided to spice things up with a rich infusion of stevia for an additional richness of flavor. Also, there’s an extract of vanilla as an additional cherry on top!  (There aren’t really any cherries, this is just a metaphor.)

This particular mixture of plants and flavors was not just picked at random, either. The thing is, this trio, when combined together, actually offers 75% fewer carbs, calories, and sugars than just regular agave, which reduces its energetic value even further.

Now, here’s the really freaky and impressive part! Compared to regular agave, this Nectevia mixture is an equivalent of 4 servings of regular agave syrup. Think about this – regular agave already saves you money because it’s 1.4 times sweeter than sugar. This form of agave is worth for servings of the regular stuff. You do the math!

Pros:

  • Features stevia and vanilla additives
  • A single bottle lasts four times longer than the regular agave bottle
  • Can be used in keto and paleo diets
  • Made out of organic agave nectar and stevia extract

Cons:

  • Some people may not like the stevia addition
  • Some customers were dissatisfied with the calorie count displayed on the label (They claim the manufacturers are downplaying the real number because it’s too high.)

#5 Wholesome Sweeteners – Organic Blue Agave

Perfect for diabetics and people, in general, who wish to be able to regulate their blood sugar better by sweetening their food and drink with something less sweet and harmful to your body than sugar itself, this organic blue agave sweetener from Wholesome Sweeteners represents a great alternative to conventional sweeteners.

Since natural agave is roughly 25% sweeter than sugar, you can save some money by using this sweetener over the ordinary ones. Also, there’s really no limit to the type of food and beverage you can sweeten with this particular product.

Whether it’s pancakes, oatmeal, cocktails, tea, or coffee, this product can do wonders to make your delicacies taste great every time you make them. For example, it can be a perfect substitute for maple syrup on top of waffles!

Pros:

  • Made out of organic blue agave
  • 25% sweeter than sugar
  • Low glycemic content
  • Non-GMO verified

Cons:

  • More calories in a tablespoon than sugar
  • Some people have complained about broken lids

#6 NOW Foods – Light Organic Agave Nectar

With a taste roughly comparable to that of honey and a mild texture, this sugar substitute can be used in a wide variety of culinary undertakings, so to speak. For example, you can use it with pancakes where you would otherwise pour maple syrup. Also, any recipe where you need sugar, you can this thing instead.

In the department of various certifications and labels, this product doesn’t disappoint, either. Namely, it’s got a Non-GMO project verification, A soy-free, as well as a gluten-free label,  USDA organic certification, and a vegetarian label, too.

Pros:

  • Can be used for a variety of foods and drinks
  • Minimally processed using low temperatures
  • Non-GMO and Kosher-certified
  • Soy and gluten-free

Cons:

  • Some users have reported that it’s not really sweet (so, you have to use more of it)
  • Some users have complained about the thickness of the syrup (too thick, so they had to dilute it with water)

Varieties of agave Syrup

Agave syrup is mainly produced in the Mexican state of Jalisco and the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. It comes from the agave plant, of which there are 208 species.

To produce the syrup, agave juice is usually filtered and then heated to break down polysaccharide chains into simple sugars (predominately fructose and dextrose).

It is then concentrated to a varying degree, depending on the form of syrup required.

The syrup is sold in four different forms: raw, light, amber and dark.

Light agave syrup is characterized by its mild, neutral flavor and is used in delicately-flavored dishes and for sweetening beverages.

Amber syrup gives a medium intensity flavor, somewhat like caramel, and is often used in dishes with a stronger flavor.

Unfiltered dark syrup has a noticeably strong caramel-like flavor. It is high in minerals and is used to flavor meat and seafood dishes as well as desserts. It can be poured straight from the bottle on to waffles, French toast or pancakes.

All of these form s of agave syrup require a degree of heating in the production process. Raw agave syrup, on the other hand, is produced by the action of an enzyme from the mould aspergillus niger, requiring temperatures of only 48 degrees or less.

The most popular species of plant used in the production of agave nectar, is blue agave. Commonly associated with tequila, for which it forms the base ingredient, this spiky-leaved Mexican succulent is pollinated by a local bat. Blue agave is higher in fructose-producing carbohydrates than other varieties, although Salmiana, green, grey, thorny and rainbow agave are also cultivated to produce agave syrup.

Where Does Agave Sweetener Come From?

Agave nectar (sometimes called agave syrup) is most often produced from the Blue Agaves that thrive in the volcanic soils of Southern Mexico. Agaves are large, spikey plants that resemble cactus or yuccas in both form and habitat, but they are actually succulents similar to the familiar Aloe Vera.

Agaves come in many sizes and colors — well over 100 species. Due to the Blue Agave’s high carbohydrate content (which results in a high percentage of fructose in the final nectar), Blue Agave is the preferred species for producing nectar. Though there are other species used to produce agave nectars, such as the Maguey Agave, the premium nectars are produced from 100% Weber Blue Agave.

How is Agave Nectar Made?

How is Agave Nectar Produced

Agave Syrup is made when the leaves the Blue Agave plants are all cut off at the age of a round 7 – 10 years, leaving the core of the plant exposed. The core is often described as looking like a huge pineapple, which can weigh in at between 50 to 150lbs depending on how old the plant is. When the core of the plant is exposed and ready to work on, all of the sap that is inside the core is extracted, filtered and then heated up. Heating the sap up breaks down the carbohydrates in the chemical bonds and turns them into sugars. The sap is heated at quite a low temperature, which is just enough to give it a sweet taste, but not enough to cook it.

When the agave has grown to 7-10 years old, the leaves of the plant are cut off, revealing the core of the plant (called the “pina”).

To make the agave nectar, sap is extracted from the pina, filtered, and heated at a low temperature, which breaks down the carbohydrates into sugars. Lighter and darker varieties of agave nectar are made from the same plants. Because of the low temperatures used in processing many varieties (under 118°F) raw foods enthusiasts generally regard agave nectar as a raw food.

What Does Agave Nectar Taste Like?

The taste of agave nectar is comparable, though not identical, to honey. Many people who do not like the taste of honey find agave a more palatable choice. It also has none of the bitter aftertaste associated with artificial sweeteners.

Though some purveyors offer a half dozen varieties of agave nectar based on different plant varieties and varied preparation methods, most brands offer two types: a light and a dark. The lighter syrups undergo less heating and a more thorough filtration to produce a more mildly flavored product that is neutral enough to be used in many culinary applications. The darker syrups are filtered less, and the solids left in the syrup make for a stronger nectar with a flavor sometimes compared to maple syrup.

Benefits of Agave Nectar

Blue agave is commonly used as a main ingredient for agave syrup or agave nectar, which are products that are considered as superior to usual sugar. The latter is a processed sweetener that contains little to no nutritive value other than calories. On the other hand, the former, in comparison with other kinds of sweeteners, has a suitable low-glycemic index. This only implies that its consumption will not cause a steep fall or rise in your blood sugar levels. If you don’t have sugar then keeping a bottle of agave nectar will be really helpful for homes!

Agave nectar is composed of oligo-organics, which, when combined with citric juices may be considered as a natural laxative which means it can greatly aid in the relief of problems associated with constipation.

Agave as a Natural Sweetener

Agave is considered as one of the best natural sweeteners. It is quickly gaining popularity among health-conscious individuals owing to its low glycemic index. Agave is primarily fructose and because of its low gycemic index property property, individuals suffering from diabetes may add it in their diet in moderation.

The agave syrup is composed of oligo-organic compounds that aids in the promotion of proper functioning of the gall bladder, supporting the saponification of fats. These oligo-organic compounds also do wonders in combating the blockage of major arteries as well as veins because of increased levels of cholesterol. It improves flavors, keeping the excellent flavor for a longer duration.

How to Use Agave in Cooking

When using agave for cooking, you may simply combine it with any cold or warm beverage or make it as an alternative to honey or sugar in a lot of baking recipes.

Blue agave is highly soluble and it easily dissolves even when used in cold beverages such as iced teas or lemonade. It also functions very well as to 1 to 1 substitution in each recipe that calls for the need of honey. When making use of agave in preparing baked goods that need sugar such as cookies and cakes, always keep in mind that agave is a syrup and not a dry sweetener. You may adjust to that by making use of lesser liquid in the recipe. Moreover, you should also consider the extra sweetness of the syrup. You may only need about 1/3 to ½ cup of agave as a substitute for a cup of sugar.

Note that switching to agave syrup isn’t just a great idea for those with the above-mentioned diseases—it’s ideal for those who wish to adopt a healthier lifestyle.Sweeteners containing the juice, syrup or nectar of the superplant can be found in the shelves of grocery stores and supermarkets. However, if you wish to have a more convenient shopping experience, you won’t have any difficulty finding similar products on the web.Do take note that scammers abound online, so it’s very important that you take the time to research on the most trusted agave sweeteners before making a decision. Also, do refrain from giving out sensitive credit details unless you’re 100% sure that you’re dealing with a credible source. Rest assured that whatever means you choose to acquire it, the agave nectar is good for you.