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(Madhava has recently introduced an exciting new natural sweetener to its product line -Agave Nectar. This natural liquid sweetener made from the extract of the wild agave, is now on the shelves at many local groceries and natural food stores. Agave Nectar is suitable for any sweetening use. And, it has both organic and kosher certification.
While honey has no equal, agave nectar is a wonderful addition as an alternative sweetener with different characteristics than honey. This new sweetener is slightly less viscous than honey, lending to its ease of use. The light variety has a wonderfully pleasant flavor that will enhance anything it sweetens. The amber variety has a natural flavor best described as maple-like. Click here to see a comparison of honey and agave nectar.
Interestingly, the production of agave nectar is very similar to how a bee creates honey. The bee adds enzymes to the complex sugars of nectar, which changes it into the simple sugars making honey. It is also through enzymatic action that the complex sugar found in agave juice is changed into a simple sugar sweetener- Agave Nectar.
The raw agave juice is regularly harvested from living plants by Indian peoples native to central Mexico. To do so, they must slice off the top of the plant and hollow out its core. Then the plant is capped with a stone. The pineapple shaped agave plant secretes its nectar into the center of the plant, rather than into flowers like most plants do. It collects in the hollow center for several days, after which the milky white "juice" is removed by ladle, one plant at a time. In a way it is similar to tapping a tree for maple syrup collection.
Agave nectar is a newly created sweetener, having been developed during the 1990's. Originally, the blue agave variety was used. This is the same plant used in the manufacture of tequila. During the late 90's, a shortage of blue agave resulted in huge increases in cost and a sweetener based on this plant became uneconomical. Further research was done and a method using wild agave was developed. Overcoming the language barrier between the Indians able to supply the nectar from the wild agave on their land and the Spanish speaking local manufacturer was the key that finally unlocked a supply of raw material and has led to our bringing this wonderful new product to market.
Limiting glucose consumption is a contemporary concern for many people. The introduction of this new sweetener is timely as it has a relatively low glycemic index due to its higher proportion of fructose and lower levels of glucose. This fact should prove attractive to those with special diet considerations or who monitor glucose intake.
Agave Nectar has many other fine qualities as well. Foremost among them are the certified purity, both organic and kosher. Also of note is the flavor. The light variety's neutral flavor will not alter the taste of the foods in which it is used making it ideal as a sweetener for coffee, tea, fruit "smoothies", and other beverages. The amber variety's mild natural flavor will lend a delicious and mysterious hint of flavor to sauces or baked goods. This sweetener is also very convenient to use, as it has a long, stable shelf life and will not solidify. It pours quickly even when cold, blends and dissolves readily in or on all foods. For baking, its moisture retention properties are comparable to those of honey. Bakers also may notice a silky, smoother texture to their goods and better definition of other natural flavors.
This pure, unrefined sweetener is a great-tasting, economical alternative to all other sweeteners, granular or liquid, perfect for all around use. It has approx 1.4 x the sweetening power of white sugar. And, Agave Nectar's mild flavor doesn't vary widely which will lend a real consistency to recipes.
Madhava expects Agave Nectar to become a popular, everyday contemporary sweetener. In the short time since it was introduced, shoppers have discovered that it makes a wonderful addition to their kitchen cupboards. Having a jar along with the honey jar allows one to choose whichever is more suitable for a particular use. The unique flavors and qualities of honey lend themselves to many items and uses, while agave nectar compliments others with even broader potential due to its mildness and ease of use.
Many households enjoy the qualities of both sweeteners for different uses.
On fruit salad.
Add dash to vinegar + oil salad dressing.
In coffee or tea.
Add to BBQ sauce.
Suitable for any sweetening use.
Use in any recipe. To substitute use � cup agave nectar per 1 cup other sweetener.
Agave Nectar has the following characteristics:
1) Because Agave Nectar is high in fructose, it enjoys all the benefits which continue to make fructose a preferred sweetening agent. It is sweeter than refined sugar (approximately 1.4 times sweeter); in fact, fructose offers an equivalent sweetness for nearly half the amount of carbohydrate calories. Fructose does not stimulate digestive insulin secretion as do other sugars. It is less disturbing to the glycemic index. In common parlance, it does not create a �sugar rush.�
2) Agave Nectar is produced in different grades varying in flavor and color.
The lighter grades of Agave Nectar are flavor neutral, enhancing the natural flavors of coffee, tea, fruit beverages, baked goods, fresh fruits, fruit smoothies, salad dressings, jams and jellies, ice cream, yoghurts, and various prepared foods, without altering their flavor. This is in marked contrast with bee honey, malt barley syrup, and certain other natural sugar substitutes that do alter the flavor of the products which they sweeten.
The amber and dark grades offer the delicate flavor of Agave with increasing intensity. The amber grade is much like honey and delicious in tea, suitable to sweeten a wide variety of foods, dry and hot cereals, pancakes, waffles, baked goods, protein drinks, and sauces. Heavier sauces such as BBQ, spaghetti, stews and meat glazes may be enhanced by the darker grades of this sweetener which deliver the rich and complex flavors distinctive to Agave.
3) Agave Nectar will not crystallize. It is high in purity and stable in composition. It is easy to store as it has a very long shelf life, approximately three years.
4) Agave Nectar is easy to handle. Because of its light viscosity, Agave Nectar is easy to handle in an industrial setting and pours easily as a table-top sweetener. It will never harden in the bottle. Agave Nectar is highly soluble and dissolves readily even in cold beverages such as lemonade or iced teas. Its light viscosity and solubility also make it ideal to sweeten cold cereals.
5) Agave Nectar is a moisture retainer. It increases the water retention properties of food. In bread and baked goods, Agave Nectar enhances product freshness due to its hygroscopic properties which act as humidifying agents, thereby increasing the shelf life of such products.
6) Agave Nectar is certified organic. The manufacturers have obtained organic certification from BCS Oeko Garantie Gmbh, a German firm accredited by the USDA. The Agave crops used in producing Agave Nectar are herbicide and pesticide free. Growers that supply the raw material will use only natural fertilizers and employ agricultural practices that meet organic certification standards. The manufacturers will also obtain organic certification on their manufacturing process.
7) Agave Nectar is KOSHER. The manufacturers have obtained KOSHER PAREVE certification: Special Kosher � Lepesach production certification for their plant.
8) Total Carbohydrate Grams: Serving Size: This product falls into the "honey" category, and thus its serving size is 1 tablespoon (note: tablespoon and not teaspoon). In turn, 1 tablespoon of Agave Nectar weighs 21 grams. Based on the fact that it contains on the average 77% solids, one serving (1 tablespoon) contains 16 grams total carbohydrates (21 grams x 77% = 16 grams).
9) Calories per Serving: A serving (1 tablespoon) contains 60 calories.
(One serving contains 16 grams of total carbohydrates. One gram of carbohydrate provides 4 calories. Therefore, 16 grams of total carbohydrate contains 64 calories, but a few of these calories are not digestible.)
10) Glycemic Index: This is a relatively new concept which can be important from a metabolic standpoint, especially to diabetics, along with athletes and grossly overweight individuals. The index is an indicator as to how much your blood sugar increases in 2-3 hours after specific food consumption. Most if not all carbohydrates are normally metabolized into the simple carbohydrate glucose, which in the glycemic index concept is arbitrarily assigned a value of 100. As a result, the higher a glycemic index food number is, the faster it raises your blood sugar level. Foods or ingredients with glycemic index numbers close to or above 100 present some significant health issues to diabetics, and in general, sweeteners of all kinds should be avoided by diabetics. Nonetheless, for those diabetics who choose to consume certain amounts of carbohydrates, Agave Nectar, it should be noted has a lower glycemic index than honey. Agave Nectar was found to have a glycemic index of 46. In contrast, honey has a reported glycemic index of 58, due to its higher ratio of glucose to fructose, as compared to the ratio of glucose to fructose in Agave Nectar. Please note: these values are based on using glucose as the reference point, which is the currently accepted approach relative to reporting glycemic index. Earlier, white bread was the reference point, but white bread composition can vary widely, and thus glucose is now the preferred base product.