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Agave Nectar

n
NahantNative May 15, 2009 11:07 AM

Does anyone know where I could purchase 100% agave nectar in the Boston area? I'm looking to whip up some mean margaritas!

  1. y
    yummy2184 May 15, 2009 11:27 AM

    I think most whole foods carry it. (Definitely purchased some from the whole foods in Wellesley)
    and good call on the margaritas!

    1 Reply
    1. re: yummy2184
      p
      pierce May 15, 2009 11:40 AM

      Harvest Co-op in JP has it, multiple brands at that.

    2. StriperGuy May 15, 2009 12:00 PM

      What's the diff between using agave nectar and plain old sugar?

      5 Replies
      1. re: StriperGuy
        goodhealthgourmet May 15, 2009 12:19 PM

        comes from the same plant as tequila, so i guess one could argue that it complements the flavor better than plain sugar. plus, the syrup is easier to mix/disperse than sugar (unless you turn it into simple syrup first).

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet
          StriperGuy May 15, 2009 01:47 PM

          I was aware that Agave syrup was derived from Agave just like good tequila. I should have been clearer: does it taste different? and I guess the answer is no.

          Just did a little wiki ing:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agave_syrup

          "92% fructose and 8% glucose; another brand lists 56% fructose and 20% glucose."

          So essentially you are just getting expensive simple syrup. Sugar is sugar. Though obviously simple syrup is essentially 100% sucrose, which is broken down in your stomach into glucose and fructose:

          "Sucrose is broken down during digestion into fructose and glucose through hydrolysis by the enzyme sucrase, by which the body regulates the rate of sucrose breakdown."

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-fru...

          1. re: StriperGuy
            goodhealthgourmet May 15, 2009 05:24 PM

            actually, agave *does* taste different than straight sucrose. the flavor varies depending on the color & grade, but all varieties are sweeter and more floral than table sugar. light agave is somewhat comparable to honey, and the darker amber nectars are reminiscent of maple syrup.

            1. re: StriperGuy
              rlove May 15, 2009 09:08 PM

              StriperGuy, while the flavor is different (some traces of the floral notes of agave), it is hard to tell the difference between sugar and agave syrup, particularly light syrups (the heavier syrups are richer in flavor). To me, the biggest benefit to agave is how easy it mixes into drinks--it is like a high-quality simple syrup.

              I have read there are health benefits (the glycemic index of agave syrup is low), too.

              1. re: rlove
                Science Chick May 17, 2009 01:16 PM

                Yes, agave has a high degree of inulins.....small polysaccharides that breakdown more slowly in your system. So in this case, sugar is *not* sugar. Agave is actually recommended for diabetics. Different from simple syrup...much sweeter. It recommended that you use about 1/3 less than regular sugar in recipes.

                TJs carries a small size too, but actually a bit more expensive than WW. I use both light and dark types in all my cooking and baking. It even works well in ice cream...I was concerned that it might affect the freezing point but it was fine.

        2. Small Plates May 15, 2009 12:02 PM

          I had the same question (for the same mission) last week and got some good answers - I got it at WF.

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/615669

          3 Replies
          1. re: Small Plates
            n
            NahantNative May 15, 2009 12:47 PM

            Small Plates: Good call, I didnt realize they sold this at WF's. How did you make the margs? tequila, lime juice and agave?

            I'm thirsty.

            1. re: NahantNative
              Small Plates May 15, 2009 01:39 PM

              It was part of an online dinner social from aveceric.com - Eric Ripert's site - challenging the community to make a certain menu, upload photos and a contest winner is chosen (and wins a Canon camera!) - the recipe is this:

              THE GUAVA-AGAVE COOLER
              Tropical fruit juices and nectars are easily found in bodegas and the international sections of most grocery stores and agave nectar is a natural sweetener that is easy to find in natural foods markets. It is made from the Agave plant - the same plant that tequila is made from.

              3 cups guava juice
              1 cup lemon juice
              ½ cup agave nectar
              2 cups tequila
              6 cups crushed ice
              Stir together the guava juice, lemon juice and agave nectar in a large pitcher. Add the tequila and crushed ice and stir well.

              1. re: Small Plates
                n
                NahantNative May 15, 2009 01:45 PM

                Thanks, can't wait to try it. I got the idea from the La Verdad menu.

          2. nsenada May 15, 2009 12:14 PM

            It's one of the things I go to Trader Joe for. Can't beat that low glycemic index, and makes a tremendous margarita.

            17 Replies
            1. re: nsenada
              StriperGuy May 15, 2009 01:50 PM

              Don't see how agave nectar has a low glycemic index when it is essentiallly fructose and glucose in water.

              1. re: StriperGuy
                failingwannabevegan May 15, 2009 04:29 PM

                The glycemic index is based on glucose, that is how. Fructose has a lower impact on blood sugar.

                1. re: StriperGuy
                  goodhealthgourmet May 15, 2009 05:37 PM

                  Glycemic Index of Sugars:

                  Agave Nectar (97% fructose) 10
                  Agave Nectar (90% fructose) 11
                  Fructose 19
                  Lactose 46
                  Honey 58
                  High fructose corn syrup 62
                  Sucrose 64
                  Glucose 100
                  Glucose tablets 102
                  Maltodextrin 105
                  Maltose 105

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                    StriperGuy May 15, 2009 07:51 PM

                    Yah except some agave nectar is only 50 or 60% fructose...

                    1. re: StriperGuy
                      goodhealthgourmet May 16, 2009 12:58 PM

                      ok, now you're just being difficult.

                      even the products that are only 50% fructose have a GI comparable to that of honey, which is still lower than sucrose. plus, agave is up to 40 percent sweeter than table sugar, so you need a heck of a lot less of it to achieve the same level of sweetness.

                      any way you slice (spoon?) it, agave's gonna be lower. period.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                        StriperGuy May 16, 2009 01:41 PM

                        Gotcah, point well taken. In my book, simple syrup works just fine.

                        1. re: StriperGuy
                          goodhealthgourmet May 16, 2009 02:07 PM

                          whew, you sure made me work for that one! ;) and yes, simple syrup does work just fine.

                        2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                          paulj May 16, 2009 02:05 PM

                          When you say the agave syrup is sweeter than table sugar, how are you measuring them? One's a liquid, the other a solid. And if you make the sugar into a syrup, what are your proportions of water to sugar? Or are you somehow comparing them on a per calorie basis?

                          I have bought several bottles of agave from TJ. There's a certain convenience to being able to squirt a bit of a syrup on fruit or other dish that needs a hint of sweetening. But I fail to see the benefit of using it as a major cooking ingredient.

                          1. re: paulj
                            goodhealthgourmet May 16, 2009 02:18 PM

                            i'd like to know how this thread has now become "let's torture GHG about agave." *i* am not measuring them, scientists and manufacturers have done it. don't ask me how, i wasn't there.

                            consensus about replacing sugar with agave in a recipe dictates that you use 25-30% less agave (by volume) than the amount of sugar called for, and cut back on the liquids by about 1/3. basically, use 2/3 - 3/4 of agave - depending on the brand & variety (i.e. light vs dark) - to replace one cup of sugar.

                            regarding your comment about failing to see the benefit of using it as a major ingredient, that's your prerogative. some of us just prefer it to table sugar for various reasons.

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                              StriperGuy May 16, 2009 02:49 PM

                              The reason, even compared to simple syrup, that agave syrup is sweeter is that fructose is generally regarded as being 1.73 times sweeter than sucrose (from wikipedia.) Though it gets even more complicated if you really want to nerd out cause there are two common forms of fructose, etc. etc.

                              Don't mean to harass you ghg. I just like being the curmudgeon. ;-)

                              Particularly when folks are paying $6 for agave nectar from Whole Foods when I make the same amount of simple syrup for $0.29.

                              1. re: StriperGuy
                                failingwannabevegan May 16, 2009 05:29 PM

                                Agave syrup is also completely vegan, while refined sugar is not always, just to put another agave plus out there.

                                1. re: StriperGuy
                                  goodhealthgourmet May 16, 2009 05:43 PM

                                  i hear you on the price issue, though i never buy it at WFM unless their in-house brand is on sale. i use so much of it in my baking that i typically buy it in large jugs, which is definitely more economical. would it be cheaper for me to use sugar? absolutely, but then my baked goods wouldn't be diabetic-friendly, which is one of the primary reasons i use agave. i'm also convinced that it agave acts as a humectant, because all of my gluten-free products turn out unbelievably moist, and GF baked goods are notorious for being dry and unpleasantly crumbly.

                                  1. re: StriperGuy
                                    SeaSide Tomato May 17, 2009 09:38 AM

                                    I get Organic Agave at Ocean State for about $3:00 and because it's so sweet, a little goes a long way. TJs has it too for about the same price, IIRC.

                          2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                            paulj May 17, 2009 09:25 PM

                            Here's a recent blog article that is cautious about the benefits of agave syrup.
                            "Currently, we don’t have clinical studies as to agave’s safety in diabetes."

                            http://susanmitchell.org/blog/2009/04...

                            1. re: paulj
                              StriperGuy May 18, 2009 01:35 AM

                              Sort of makes sense, because the claim that Agave has inulin carbohydrate may be true with agave itself, but inulin is not very sweet. If the inulin is converted into fructose and glucose, typically by heating, then you are right back with essentially having rather expensive sugar syrup that happens to be derived from agave instead of cane or sugar beets.

                              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inulin

                              In fact, on this web site www.allaboutagave.com :

                              "To make the agave nectar, sap is extracted from the pina, filtered, and heated at a low temperature, which breaks down the carbohydrates into sugars."

                              So you have rather clever marketing to the Whole Foods crowd what is essentially sugar syrup. We all want to have our cake and eat it too, but if it is fructose and glucose, it's sugar, all wholesome marketing claims aside.

                              Finally, I find the claim that Agave nectar has a low glycemic index when compared to other sugars rather suspect. After all, it is just fructose and glucose. Fructose is sweeter then other sugars, but then so is high fructose corn syrup which is demonized by the "heathy foods" crowd.

                              My gut is that you have some clever marketing for a product that in the end is just sugar syrup which happens to be derived from agave as opposed to other sources.

                              1. re: StriperGuy
                                nsenada May 18, 2009 09:21 AM

                                "But Brawndo's got electrolytes."

                                1. re: nsenada
                                  Small Plates Dec 2, 2009 01:13 PM

                                  It's what your body craves - haha!

                      2. MC Slim JB May 15, 2009 01:13 PM

                        Marty's in Allston carried it, so I'm guessing the surviving Marty's in Newton does.

                        Boston Shaker, the cocktail equipment and supply store inside Grand, may have it, too.

                        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: MC Slim JB
                          yarm May 15, 2009 01:53 PM

                          Marty's in Newtonville does indeed have it. I believe it's in the tequila aisle and not with the grenadine/bitters/mixers.

                          1. re: MC Slim JB
                            l
                            lantheaume Jun 29, 2009 06:47 AM

                            I know this is late, but I don't get back to chow as often as I'd like.

                            We don't have it yet, but it's on my short-list of products to carry.

                            So much great cocktail stuff - so little time to acquire and space to carry it!

                          2. failingwannabevegan May 15, 2009 04:27 PM

                            I have bought it at Whole Foods in the past.

                            1. d
                              deglazer May 15, 2009 05:56 PM

                              Stop and Shop carries it, at least the one I frequent in JP.

                              1. c
                                chicagotransplant May 15, 2009 06:35 PM

                                Trader Joe's!

                                1. rlove May 15, 2009 09:09 PM

                                  As a matter of fact, I bought some agave syrup from the Whole Foods in Symphony just this evening.

                                  Not only did they have plenty, but they had several offerings--including light versus amber versus dark. I bought my usual, an organic 100% blue agave light syrup that I use in various cocktails.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: rlove
                                    j
                                    janeh May 16, 2009 03:54 PM

                                    I order it from Amazon - just got "Wholesome" brand, which is on sale this month. Shipping is free if you order $25 or more of any variety of stuff! A little goes a long way, but we use it to sweeten iced tea, put a few drops on a peanut butter sandwich instead of jelly, mix a little with chevre and rosemary for a delicious spread and, of course, use it in margaritas. Enough uses to easily justify the quantity that you need to get on Amazon!

                                  2. r
                                    robertlf May 17, 2009 07:14 PM

                                    Butterbrook Organic Farm in Acton has two different brands of it. Just bought one from them today actually.

                                    http://www.butterbrookfarm.com/

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: robertlf
                                      a
                                      Alica May 17, 2009 07:18 PM

                                      I second Ocean State Job Lot, they always have it and so much cheaper than Whole Foods.

                                    2. n
                                      NahantNative Jun 29, 2009 08:10 AM

                                      Update - I picked up Agave Nectar at TJ's Brookline. I made the Cook's Illistrated marg mix (bought tons of lemons and limes at haymarket) and simply mixed with Tequila....a lot of work for the mix, but worth the effort.

                                      1. toodie jane Dec 1, 2009 06:13 AM

                                        Costco is carrying a 2-pack right now, forget the price, but larger 23.5 oz. bottles and considerably cheaper than TJ's.

                                        I agree. MODERATION of anything sweet is the KEY.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: toodie jane
                                          barleywino Dec 1, 2009 06:33 AM

                                          Did anybody mention the Oaxacan Old Fashioned made with agave nectar? http://www.cocktailchronicles.com/200... maybe simple syrup would work as well, but using agave in *this* drink is a matter of principle ;)

                                          1. re: toodie jane
                                            okra Dec 2, 2009 12:23 PM

                                            Martignetti's has it, Milagro Organic - $9.99 / 750 in both with the tequila and the bar mixes.

                                            -----
                                            Martignetti Liquors
                                            1650 Soldiers Field Rd, Brighton, MA

                                          2. okra Dec 4, 2009 05:08 AM

                                            Whole Foods in Dedham's Legacy Place has it, and on sale even! from $11.99 to $5.99 for a (44oz?) plastic bottle either raw or refined.

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