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.