Organic agave syrup is a natural sweetener derived from the core of the blue agave plant. It’s excellent for sweetening oatmeal, cereal, pancakes, yogurt, waffles and other great dishes. It is also delicious in a series of beverages such as iced tea, smoothies, or cocktails because it dissolves well in cold drinks. There are plenty of great recipes that use Agave syrup.
But…what does organic mean? And how would you know if it really is organic?
How is organic agave made?
Organic agave is made from blue agave plants, which are part of the unique landscape of the Mexican state of Jalisco. (They are called “blue” because there is blue wax in the plant’s leaves). They spread over thousands of hectares, adding spice and color to the subtropical region. Blue agave (var. Weber) does not grow fast by any means. It is related to Joshua trees and yucca plants and spreads runners, some of which are harvested, replanted and used to obtain organic raw agave nectar.
This type of agave is cultivated without chemicals or genetic modification of any kind and has to comply with a series of standards. Organic agave has a much lower glycemic index than sugar and a more neutral taste than honey. Another advantage is its complete lack of any sort of aftertaste. The nectar of the agave plant is known as honey water in many parts of the country. Natives have been using it as natural medicine and a natural sweetener for millennia.
The blue agave plant grows over a period of up to 7 years, reaching a height of 8 feet. The “jewels” of the plant are in its piña or core, which looks like a pineapple after the leaves have been cut. The blue agave is hand-trimmed with a sharp blade. The trimmings are left behind to reduce erosion and restore the soil. The fibrous agave “pineapple” is then pressed and its high-inulin-content juice collected and cleaned. Inulin is a fiber that is not naturally sweet. To make organic agave, the juice is warmed slowly at low heat for twice as long as processed agave nectar is, whereby the inulin becomes fructose, the same type of sugar naturally found in some fruits and vegetables. When the core is crushed, the liquid oxidizes upon contact with air. The blue agave nectar’s color and flavor depend on the filtering.
The core is milled and the raw juice collected in a tank. The fibers are recycled. The juice is filtered using carbon-activated filters. The next phase is hydrolysis. The juice’s inulin is heated slowly at low temperature to be converted into agave syrup. Then it is filtered again to ensure food safety. After that, the organic agave juice is thickened slowly by evaporation at a mild temperature.
Differences between organic and regular agave syrup
An important difference between organic agave syrup and regular agave syrup is that with the former, there is a full guarantee that no pesticides, fungicides or any genetically modified organisms are used to make it. The blue agave is a succulent plant. Succulents have abnormally thick and fleshy parts so that they can retain water in dry climates. These plants sometimes store water in various structures, such as stems and leaves. If they are not properly taken care of, they can fall victim to pests and diseases and do. Plants from which organic agave syrup is derived are very well taken care of to avoid this.
Organic agave syrup is derived from plants that are grown in small collections because it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to eliminate pest problems in large ones. Organic agave syrup also undergoes rigorous testing to obtain the relevant certification according to international standards. A legitimate organic agave syrup supplier or producer must have a series of certificates issued. These certificates include, but are not limited to the Global Standards, Food Safety System Certification 22000, ANAB, BRC Food Certification, SGS, ISO, Naturland and USDA Organic.
Is organic raw agave syrup paleo?
First of all, what does “paleo” mean? It comes from “Paleolithic”, as in the prehistoric Paleolithic era. Paleo-diets are currently very popular. These diets involve eating the way our Paleolithic ancestors used to. Strict Paleo dieters will try not eat anything our ancestors didn’t. As the Paleolithic era preceded agriculture, this excludes legumes and grains. It also excludes processed food, sugars and any food that needs modern technology to be produced.
So is agave nectar paleo? Organic agave syrup requires modern technology to make and is heated in controlled conditions, which wouldn’t have been possible in the Paleolithic Age. Even if organic agave nectar is heated under very low heats, it still is heated. This is why agave nectar probably can’t be considered paleo.
Still, organic agave syrup is very healthy. It has a low glycemic index which means that its sugars are released more slowly than other sweeteners.