Agave Syrup

Agave syrup (sometimes called agave “nectar”) is the reduced juice of the blue agave plant. It comes from Mexico as well as South Africa. By no coincidence whatsoever blue agave juice is also what tequila is made from, since all those sugars can be just as easily fermented as boiled down into syrup.

The fascinating thing about agave syrup is how darn sweet it tastes. The sensation is about 130% the sweetness of table sugar, which makes it cloying to many people. The reason for the elevated sweetness is because of its composition: up to 70% fructose (plus 10% glucose and 20% water). And fructose, as we know, tastes quite a bit sweeter on the tongue than table sugar.

All that fructose makes agave syrup something of an odd choice for health food lovers, but the truth is that health food stores (and Mexican markets) positively abound in the stuff. The irony is that most people who shop at health food stores positively hate high fructose corn syrup because of its 50-60% fructose content. It’s all that fructose, they say, that makes it unhealthful. So what gives? Not that I’m trying to start any arguments here, of course.

Agave syrup is generally used as a substitute for honey.

6 thoughts on “Agave Syrup”

    1. Hey Catherine! It’s a pretty straightforward process…the interior pith is cut out and squeezed, then the juice is boiled down until it’s amber and thick…ish. It’s quite thin as syrups go, mostly because the sugar it contains is so homogenous (mostly fructose).

      – Joe

  1. Joe, I’m a South African lurker who LOVES your posts, but I never knew that agave comes from here (and I worked for 20 years in the Agricultural sector). A quick internet search proves that it’s true. I am amazed! The things you learn here. You are a precious treasure. I did learn that the agave plant has been in South Africa for less than 200 years and nobody really knows how it got here. Like all food yarns, many and varied versions exist.

    1. You made my day, Naomi! Thanks so much for your very generous note. I love uncovering these sorts of fact as you surely know. The blog gives me a great excuse for my eclectic research.

      Cheers and thanks again!

      – Joe

  2. Hello,

    I loved your article, because you got the facts. A lot of people talk to talk about Agave Nectar and when I ask about what is the best alternative there is no answer. I work for Iidea the largest agave products manufacturer in Mexico. If you want more information let me know.

    1. I shall indeed, Fabiola! Thank you for the kind words. That’s high praise coming from a person of your expertise.

      You may hear from me again one of these days! Cheers,

      – Joe

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