Agave juice was known to native Mexicans as "honey water." Agave plants tend to be most familiar as the basis for tequila, although agave nectar is gaining ground in home kitchens as a wonderful alternative to traditional sweeteners. Agave nectar is made mainly from the juices extracted from the core of the agave plant, most often from blue agave, agave salimiana, agave americana and agave mapisaga. There are many other wild agaves that can also be utilized. The different species produce nectars of varying flavors. The juices are expressed from the core of the plants and then processed to produce the nectar. The juices destined to become light agave are filtered to produce a light neutral end product. After the juices are extracted, they are heated to break down the carbohydrates.
The main carbohydrate in agave juice is comprised of inulin-fructooligosaccharides, a complex form of fructose. There are two methods of processing, one using enzymes and one using hydrolysis, which are used to split the naturally occurring complex sugar in simple fructose and dextrose. Hydrolysis is commonly considered to be more efficient and to produce a more refined product. Once the juice has been processed, it is then reduced to a syrupy consistency. As with maple syrup, you can find a wide range of agave syrups on the market, ranging from a dark, almost molasses-like product to a light, simple syrup.
Since agave syrup is approximately 90 percent fructose, it is perceived to have a sweeter flavor than granulated sugar. Because it tastes sweeter you do not need to add as much to a recipe to obtain the same level of sweetness. This makes it an ideal product for people who are sugar-sensitive or watching calories but do not want to resort to artificial sweeteners to satisfy their sugar cravings. Most agave syrups available in the United States are organic, vegan, and kosher, making them appropriate to use for almost everyone.
We've included a recipe for a granita margarita to help get you started with agave syrup. It's a fun, easy way to make a slightly different version of a classic cocktail. In this recipe we normally pair silver tequilas with light or golden agave, and aged tequilas with darker agaves that will work well with the more complex flavors.single page
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