Origin and botany
The agave plants for our products grow in the highlands of Mexico, more precisely in the southern foothills of the Sierra Madre Occidental, west of the city of Guadalajara. In the vast, gently rolling, dry landscape, the silvery rows of plants contrast beautifully with the sandy, reddish soil and the often azure sky. The dry, almost steppe-like climate makes normal agricultural use virtually impossible. In contrast, the hardy and adaptable agave plants thrive there despite the difficult conditions.
Of the approximately 700 agave species, mainly the Blue Agave (Agave tequilana) and the Wild Agave (Agave salmeana) are cultivated and processed.
The Blue Agave is the most commonly cultivated. It is found mainly in the regions of Nayarit, Jalisco, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi, Guanajuato and Michoacan.
The agave harvest
After about 6 - 7 years, the agave sprouts a meter-high flower sprout that can be seen from afar. After numerous seeds have ripened there, the mother plant dries up. In its place, one of the basal daughter shoots dormant in the soil now sprouts and begins to grow anew at this space.
Just before the agave plant sprouts its flowering shoot, a high concentration of sugary plant sap forms in the lower part of the rosette. At this time, the outer, thorn-tipped leaves are removed and the "sweet heart" is harvested. The separated leaves are crushed on the spot and remain there as a natural fertilizer for the next planting.
In Mexico, the roasted agave plants are also popularly consumed as a sweet, and the topped flower shoot is traded as a specialty.
Production of liquid and crystalline agave sweetener
In order to extract agave syrup, the heart (mex. pinas), which weighs up to 45 kg and resembles a pineapple, is now driven to the production plant. There it is washed, crushed and the sweet juice is pressed out.
The time span between the harvest of the agave hearts in the field and the processing in the production plant should be as short as possible. Over time, the normal "oxidation process" sets in at the interfaces of the agave hearts, just as a sliced fruit or apple split turns brown over time. The shorter and faster the processing, the lighter the final product.
The fresh agave juice contains natural enzymes from the agave that break down the storage carbohydrate inulin and convert it into the simple sugars fructose and glucose. After the plant fibers have been filtered out, gentle thickening begins under vacuum until the agave syrup has reached the desired syrup-like viscosity.
For processing and thickening, the factors time and temperature play an important role. When the agave juice is thickened, a caramelization process also takes place due to the effect of temperature. The more gently thickened, the lighter the agave syrup.
Suitable filters are used to remove turbidity and fibers before thickening. The finer the filtering, the clearer and brighter the product.
Caramelization is an important factor in controlling flavor and color. Darker agave syrups taste more intense and have a caramel or slightly malty note. Most consumers, however, prefer the lighter and neutral quality.
If this thickening process is continued, small sugar crystals slowly form and the crystalline agave can be skimmed off.
Composition and nutritional aspects
The fructose content of agave syrup is very high. Since agave syrup is a simple sugar, the human body can utilize it directly and can use it as a quick energy source for the brain, nerves and muscles. Many minerals and trace elements -such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron- are contained in agave syrup.
Sugar spectrum/special features
At least 65% of the sugars are present as fructose, 30 - 33% are glucose, and the remaining 2 - 5% are sucrose and other oligosaccharides. Due to its low glucose content, agave sweetener is particularly suitable as an alternative sweetener for diabetics.
18 g agave syrup = 1 bread unit
The agave nectar extracted from the agaves and processed into agave syrup consists largely of fructose and glucose, although the proportion of fructose is significantly higher at up to 80%. Since the glycemic index of fructose is low, agave syrup has little effect on blood sugar levels.
The glycemic load of agave is among the lowest among sweeteners at 10-12.
Due to its very fine structure, agave sweetener has a large surface area and can be compared to powdered sugar rather than the coarser sugar crystals. This also results in different dosage amounts:
--> one heaped teaspoon of agave sweetener weighs 2g
--> one heaped teaspoon of sugar weighs 6g
The lower dosage amount can change your attitude towards sugar and sweetening. After a while, you may feel that you can get by with even half the amount of sugar you would use otherwise. Agave sweetener can therefore be a way to permanently consume less sugar and at the same time not have to give up on sweets. To use it, we recommend replacing 100g of sugar with 80g of agave sweetener. With this you will succeed in all recipes. After a period of adaptation, the amount of sugar can be reduced by about 30-50%.
The agave syrup is very suitable for refining cold and hot drinks and as a sweetener for mueslis and desserts, but also for flavoring tomato soups and salad dressings.
The crystalline agave sweetener can be used to prepare any recipe, especially pastries or sauces. To use it, we recommend replacing 100g of household sugar with 80g of agave sweetener. With this you will succeed in all recipes.