Agave is the alpha and omega of healthy sweetening. Find out how to use it correctly

The agave plant has several benefits that we can draw from it!

Read this article about how it can be grown, how its delicious nectar is obtained and in what forms we can process it so that we can enjoy its sweet taste!

What is agave?

This plant can be easily identified by its typical appearance, thanks to its sharp leaves.

The plant grows naturally in warm and dry climates and is native to Texas and Mexico, where it is also cultivated.

There are over 200 species that have been cultivated, both for industrial use and as a decorative plant for gardens, but the Blue Agave and Maguey varieties are the ones we commonly use for food and drink.

A plantation full of prickly herbs, ready for harvest.

Agave species

American Agave – these plants grow a green or yellow stem that can reach a height of up to 2 meters when mature and is used as an ornamental plant.

Artichoke Agave – has blue or green leaves tipped with sharp, dark spines and rarely blooms.

Blue agave – commonly called tequila agave. This plant is known for providing agave nectar, an essential ingredient for making tequila.

Queen Victoria Agave: is the smallest in stature and has beautiful flowers that range in color from cream to red-purple.

Several distinct varieties of green prickly herb.

How to grow agave?

  1. Spring or early fall is the best time to plant it outdoors.
  2. Dig a hole that is about twice as wide and deep as the pot the plant was in until now.
  3. Plant it in a warm place with sufficient sunlight. Agave plants do not tolerate frost and require a climate with low humidity.
  4. Pour a layer of cactus soil into the bottom of the hole. Once removed from the container, gently tap the roots of the plant before planting it in the hole and finally cover it with another layer of cactus soil.
  5. Do not fertilize it, as this can lead to premature flowering, which will cause your agave to die soon.
  6. When the plant is established, water the roots gently and repeat the watering approximately every five days for the first month.
Growing Century Plant from Seeds, Days 0-14
Source: Melvin Wei

How is agave syrup made?

The process of making the syrup we use to sweeten our dishes begins many years before it even reaches our kitchens.

The plant is grown for 7-10 years until the nectar inside the stems is ready for extraction.

The stems are strategically cut to prevent the plant from blooming. The central stem is removed from a young agave plant, causing the plant to grow larger and produce more fructose.

The sap inside the plant is then extracted, pressed, filtered, heated to break down the sugars into fructose, and finally concentrated into syrup.

The syrup processed in this way is then packaged and sold.

Agave Syrup vs. agave powder

The most common form we encounter is syrup, but there are other ways.

The sweetener can also be made in powder form. The sweetener produced this way is high in soluble fiber and provides many health benefits, including boosting the immune system, supporting gut bacteria, regulating blood sugar and lowering cholesterol.

A bowl full of organic agave powder.

What does agave taste like?

It is very sweet, almost twice as sweet as regular table sugar. So if you change the sugar, you should also start to sweeten it less.

Its sweetness comes from its high fructose content, resulting in a taste without the bitter or chemical aftertaste that accompanies most artificial sweeteners. It tastes light and nectar-like in the mouth.

The syrup is very thin and dissolves very easily in other liquids.

Agave is most often compared to honey and maple syrup. It resembles both in terms of taste and appearance, but its taste is purer without various undertones and aftertastes.

Two glasses filled with golden liquid.

Nutritional values ​​of agave syrup (per 100 ml)

Calorie Carbohydrates Sugars Fats Saturated fatty acids Protein Fiber Salt
310 calories 76 g 68 g 0.5 g 0 g 1 g 0.2 g 4 mg

Agave is often touted as a healthy sugar alternative, a great vegan substitute for honey, and a good sweetener for people with diabetes. But there are a few BUTs… 🙂

The plant contains healthy fiber, including fructans, which benefit glucose metabolism, regulate body weight and increase fat mass (via British Journal of Nutrition).

Since agave is much sweeter than sugar, less can be used to achieve the same level of sweetness.

However, agave nectar is higher in calories than sugar.

It’s better than regular sugar for people with diabetes because it has a low glycemic index, meaning it won’t raise blood sugar as much as other sweeteners.

Agave should still be consumed in moderation, as the high levels of fructose in agave can lead to other problems.

Overall, agave has some nutritional benefits compared to regular sugar, but it’s still a fructose-filled sweetener that should be used in small amounts.

How to cook with agave

It is most often used as a sweetener that replaces traditional table sugar. Whenever you substitute sugar, it is important to use half the amount.
The flowers and leaves of the agave plant can be roasted or boiled – the leaves have a caramel flavor.
Flowers that pair well with eggs, be sure to remove the pollen stems beforehand as they have a bitter taste.
The leaves of the green Maguey plant are traditionally used to prepare a dish called mixiote. The outer layer of leaves is removed to create a translucent foil that is then wrapped around the food and grilled. It is similar to the en Papillote technique (read more about this French cooking technique in our article ). The leaves add a mild flavor to food.
Sweeten your life first thing in the morning by adding this sweetener to our breakfast oatmeal or drizzle it over these delicious pancakes or these great unleavened fritters
A mountain of pancakes with blueberries and drizzled with soft syrup.

Where to buy agave?

Agave syrup or another sweetening form of this herb is available at any major grocery or health food store these days.

You can find it in the baking section with other sweeteners and sugar substitutes. It can also be in the health food section or the spice aisle.

There is no need to consider anything specific when buying. It comes in a ready-to-use bottle to sweeten drinks and food.

Milan & Ondra

We are both fans of good food and enjoy cooking. On this website, we want to inspire you with traditional, but also less common recipes. We will be happy if you try our recipes and let us know how you liked them. Bon appetite! :)