Here are 5 homemade fruit-based syrups that are delicious alternatives to agave, maple syrup, and other liquid sweeteners.
Agave and maple syrup are promoted as better-for-you alternatives for sugar, especially enjoyed by those with a plant-based diet.
But some people don’t like the taste of either, and honestly, they’re basically simple sugars. Fortunately, there are alternatives to satisfying your sweet tooth.
The following fruit-based syrups and sweeteners might better suit your taste buds and have a variety of health benefits too, since they’re based on fruit.
Date syrup originated in Middle Eastern cuisine. If you make your own, it’s an economical and fruity alternative to bottled sweeteners.
Date syrup can easily be made by simply boiling sliced dates (when a film starts to appear, just skim it off) in a saucepan. It’s optional to add lemon zest and/or lemon juice to taste, but highly recommended.
Bring the mixture to a boil and allow the mixture to simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes. The mixture will become sweeter the longer you boil it, but generally,
Draining into a fine-mesh strainer or a colander covered with a cheesecloth. Keep pressing the date mixture into the strainer until the water is fully drained and you have a syrup consistency.
For a thicker consistency, just bring the dates to a boil and then let them cool before putting them in a blender.
Start with pomegranate juice rather than the whole fruit, as it would be quite a chore to deal with all those seeds!
Combine 4 cups pomegranate juice, ½ cup agave nectar, and a tablespoon of lemon juice in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally.
When the mixture reaches the consistency of syrup (about 50 minutes), remove from the heat and let it cool. This makes a delicious salad dressing or natural sweetener in any dish.
Another take: Pomegranate Syrup or Molasses
Caramelized Onion Syrup
Caramelized onions have a surprisingly high amount of sugar in them. Simply slice a few onions and cook slowly on medium-low heat with olive oil until lightly and evenly browned.
Adding salt will naturally drain the moisture out of the onions and adding water helps to get juices flowing. Adding garlic brings out the sweet and savory flavor of the onions. Wine or liquor of your choice can be added to also aid in complimenting and bringing out those juicy flavors.
To make into a syrup, puree in a food processor with enough agave to your taste to sweeten.
Applesauce or apple syrup
Applesauce (with no sugar added) is another way to cut out sugar.
Combine 6 apples (any sweet variety) — peels, diced, and cored —with 1 cup unfiltered apple juice and 2 tablespoons of vegan butter in a sauté pan. Bring the mixture to a slow boil on medium-high heat.
Gradually stir in 3 tablespoons maple syrup or agave and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
Transfer the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Adjust the consistency with more apple juice if need be.
Roasted Strawberry Sauce
For a roasted strawberry sauce that will taste great on pancakes and French toast, you’ll need a pound of fresh strawberries, stemmed and sliced, 1 ½ tablespoons of agave, and one teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Arrange on a baking pan lined with parchment paper and bake at 425º F for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Try experimenting with different herbs like mint, thyme, or basil in this mixture for complementary flavors.
Norma Brickner is a 2020 graduate of Journalism and Digital Media SUNY-New Paltz.
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