Substitutions - Cooking Without Sugar

Honey is a liquid sugar made by bees, and consists of several components: fructose, glucose, maltose, and sucrose. It is sweeter than sugar, and has a distinctive flavor. Baked goods made with honey are moist and dense, and tend to brown faster than those made with granulated sugar. Use 3/4 cup honey in place of 1 cup sugar, and reduce the other liquid ingredients by 2 tablespoons. Unless the recipe includes sour cream or buttermilk, add a pinch of baking soda to neutralize the acidity.

Molasses is a byproduct of refined sugar production. It is made up of sucrose, glucose, fructose, and also contains small amounts of B vitamins, calcium, and iron. Molasses imparts a dark color and strong flavor to baked foods, but is not as sweet as sugar. When substituting molasses for sugar, use 1 1/3 cup molasses for 1 cup sugar, and reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by 5 tablespoons. Molasses is also more acidic than sugar; add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda for each cup of molasses used in substitution for sugar.

Maple syrup is made from the sap of sugar maple trees, and is a combination of sucrose and glucose. The sap is boiled down into the sweet, delectable syrup we pour over our pancakes and waffles. It is also very good in cookies, pies, and cakes. There are several grades of syrup available. Grade A maple syrup is golden brown and has a light flavor. Grade B is heavier, darker, and has more of that maple flavor. Like honey, it's very sweet; use 3/4 cup for every cup of white sugar. Decrease the amount of liquid by 3 tablespoons.

Brown rice malt syrup consists of maltose, glucose, and complex carbohydrates. It is an amber hued syrup resembling honey, but it is not as sweet as honey. It can be substituted cup per cup for granulated sugar, but the liquid ingredients should be reduced by 1/4 cup per cup of rice syrup. Enzyme treated syrup, as opposed to malted syrup, will tend to liquefy the batter of a baked product. Use the malted syrup for best results.

Fruit juice concentrates, such as apple juice concentrate, orange juice concentrate, or white grape juice concentrate, are wonderful substitutes for sugar. Juice concentrates are made up of fructose and glucose. Use 3/4 cup for every cup of white sugar, and decrease the amount of liquid by 3 tablespoons.

Remember, these substitution guidelines are just that - guidelines. You can tailor your recipes for your tastes by adding more or less sweetener to your recipes. Also, you may not get exactly what you were looking for. It might be better! Live a little; experimentation is fun!

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