Agave nectar is a syrupy sweetener made from the sap that is expressed from the core of the succulent agave plant.
Much like maple, the sap is cooked down to produce a syrup of concentrated sweetness of varying colors, from light to dark amber, determined by the amount of processing. The lighter version (often considered raw, since it is processed below 118º F) is mild and neutral, while the darker agave has a more complex caramel-like flavor.
Compared to other traditional sweeteners, agave has a low-glycemic index, meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar, making it a great replacement for sugar in your diet. Since agave is sweeter than sugar, use only about 1/3 cup of agave per cup of sugar in your recipe.
Since agave is a liquid and sugar is dry, you will also want to reduce other liquids in the recipe by 1/3. Agave will also burn quicker than other sweeteners, so when replacing in foods that will be cooked, reduce your oven temperature by 25º F.
Because of its similar consistency, agave makes a perfect vegan alternative to honey. It also dissolves quickly at low temperatures and thus can be used easily to sweeten cold drinks. You can find agave in health food stores, as well as in some more traditional grocery stores, near the other sweeteners. You can feel good about adding more sweetness to your life with this deliciously sticky nectar.
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