Agave Syrup or Agave Nectar
We have noticed much confusion on the names used to refer to agave-based sweeteners and here, we volunteer our two words to either offer clarity or add to the sweet confusion.
It is hard to imagine what our ancestors originally used “aguamiel” (honey-water, mead) obtained from de Agave salmiana to sweeten dishes and drinks. This aguamiel is obtained by cutting the stem (quiote) of the agave plant when it starts flowering and creating a deep hole in the center where the aguamiel accumulates and is collected.
Aguamiel is the true nectar of the agave, not a sap and is the same raw material used to make pulque. Environmental microorganisms easily ferment the sugars in the aguamiel, just need to leave it a room temperature and voilá you have Pulque.
However, if the aguamiel is boiled and allowed to evaporate to concentrate their sugars, you can get a product similar to honey and a similar product can be obtained using the juice of the cooked agave pineapples. In this case the center of the agave (pineapples) are cooked to convert complex carbohydrates into fermentable sugars. The cooked agave pineapples are juiced, fermented, and distilled to produce different types of agave spirits (Visit the article ” The wonderful art of distillation ” in the link http://www.onilikan.com/el-maravilloso-arte- of – the – distillation /). However if the same agave juice is further cooked or otherwise processed to concentrate the sugars agave honey similar to that produced from aguamiel is produced. The thickness of the agave nectar depends on the final concentration of sugars in the fluid, but is no longer aguamiel, but rather a dark thick liquid with aroma and intense flavor characteristic of agave.
Unfortunately, these traditional methods to produce agave nectar have almost disappeared. The cooking process of the agave sugars generates compounds known as furfural and there is a rule that controls the levels of these compounds allowed a product generated from agave juice (Mexican standard NMX -FF -110 -008 -SCFI).
Cooking the agave juice generates furfurals levels that do not meet the standard and for this reason most of the sweeteners that are now on the market are made using an enzymatic process to convert carbohydrates into sugars. The product resulting from this process is a liquid sweetener much clearer and subtler flavor than traditional agave honey. It seems fitting that the best term for this type of product is the name of agave syrup.
For us agave nectar would be the aguamiel, or some version of it (filtered, frozen but not processed). Agave honey that would be prepared by the cooking method and all the others would be agave syrup.
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