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Fat Guy

Artificial sweeteners

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Bar sugar (extra fine sugar) dissolves better than any other, so you could probably get better results if you ground it up very fine in a food processor. But even bar sugar doesn't dissolve as well as the artificial sweeteners.

I use simple syrup instead.

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High school chemistry: the answer to every 3rd question: higher surface area leads to greater reactivity.


"Long live democracy, free speech and the '69 Mets; all improbable, glorious miracles that I have always believed in."

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The notable exception is the sugar alcohols, like maltitol, erythritol, or Isomalt (main ingredient in Diabetisweet). Those don't dissolve any better than sugar, and maybe even worse. Erythritol doesn't seem to dissolve well except in hot liquids. I have some rather crunchy brownies and homemade ice cream sitting in front of me. Tasty, but crunchy.

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totally different crystalline structure.

How does Splenda® compare to sugar on these terms?

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Which sugar substitutes work best for cooking? I've found out a little, but need some expertise. I've found the following:

Cyclamate – any word on the current status?

Equal (Aspartame) is said to break down in heat, so it's not suitable for cooking.

Erythitol – browns like sugar. The FDA rates it as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe), but that means the FDA hasn't evaluated it. Their site here, but it's a health food manufacturer, and I'd like a neutral evaluation.

Saccharin

Spenda (Sucralose) -- OK for cooking, but is said to have an "artificial" aftertaste. How strong is it?

Stevia -- OK for cooking, but not approved by the FDA for food use.

Sunett (Acesulfame potassium) is said not to break down in cooking.

I assume any of them could be sprinkled on cooked food before serving where necessary, but how about, say, pork roasts to create a lacquered surface or in most Indian and Chinese dishes?

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I have been using Splenda and the Splenda/sugar and Splenda/brown sugar baking mixes (which work much better than the plain Splenda) since they became available.

I have relatively sensitive taste buds and I have not been able to detect the so-called "artificial" aftertaste that some people have mentioned.

In fact, unless people know it is in the product I have not heard anyone mention it.

One person, who told me in no uncertain terms that she won't use Splenda because of the "horrible" aftertaste, used my flavored Coffee-Mate at work, apparently unaware that there is an obvious lable on it that states it is sweetened with Splenda.

I didn't mention it and she drank the mug of coffee without complaint.

The combinations are specifically formulated for baking and help to keep the product moist and retard staling.

Sweet One (Acesulfame potassium) is another one I have used and is stable at cooking temps.

However, baked goods stale rapidly, if you like hard cookies use this one - it is just fine in egg custards, puddings, etc.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Both my husband and our daughter have Type 1 diabetes, so I do a fair amount of substituting sugar-free sweeteners in cooking and baking.

My sweetener of choice is Splenda (sucralose). Splenda granular (in the large zip-top bags) can be measured cup-for-cup like sugar in cooking and baking*; the small paper packets are concentrated and meant largely for sweetening beverages at the table, though I've also sprinkled them over fruit and cereal, etc.

* Splenda does not behave exactly like sugar in baking. It doesn't brown, for instance, and baked goods may not rise as well. As Andiesenji indicates, Splenda also puts out Splenda/sugar and Splenda/brown sugar blends for baking, and they perform better in baked goods, though they contain some carbs from sugar. For baking, I would suggest referring to Splenda's website for recipes, or Googling for other Splenda-specific recipes (if you PM me, I have a handful).

For browning foods to create a lacquered surface such as on pork roasts, etc. I

suggest using a minimal amount of a sugar product that caramelizes rapidly (such as dark brown sugar or molasses), or try the trick of browning onions in a pan without oil (saute with a splash of water until the water evaporates, repeating three or four times until the onions are tender and browned), then sauteing the meat in the fond left by the onions. Splenda has worked nicely in the Asian recipes I've tried.

Splenda can also be used, BTW, to make mock "confectioners' sugar" and mock "sweetened condensed milk" for recipes -- PM me.

I have not detected any aftertaste, although I will say that some foods cooked/baked with Splenda taste "flat" -- they need a bit of something else (a dash of salt? a squirt of lemon juice or additional vanilla?) to perk up the flavor.

***

Cyclamates are still banned in the USA, although they're for sale in Canada. Products that contain cyclamates in Canada (such as Sweet 'n Low and Sugar Twin) substitute saccharin in the USA.

***

Saccharin has a distinctive aftertaste and I would not advise it for cooking.

***

Stevia is not approved by the FDA. I read something very interesting about it on a diabetes message board this past week -- don't have the link any more -- one guy who did research into it for personal use found that most stevia products in health food stores also contain some form of sugar (sucrose, glucose, etc.) if you read the labels carefully. He bought the one product that was pure stevia and said it tasted horrible, with a distinctive licorice-like undertaste.

Also, he said the reason the FDA has not approved stevia is that although it's been used for hundreds of years in South American culture, that use is as a (beverage?) occasionally consumed at a religious ceremony/festival and not on a day-to-day basis. There are no conclusive tests as to its ongoing safety. Manufacturers were able to get around that by marketing it as an unregulated "supplement" rather than for food use, which requires stricter safety criteria.

***

I haven't read anything about how Sunett (acesulfame potassium) reacts in cooking and have not personally tried using it. I see it mostly in soft drinks. I've read that it does have an aftertaste.


SuzySushi

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I have a very nice little cookbook titled

Unbelievable Desserts with Splenda, authored by Marlene Koch

These range from smoothies to fruit sauces.

I have prepared many of the desserts and every one has been excellent.

Peanut butter cookies, Lemon chiffon pie, Applesauce snack cake, just a few of the ones I found to be as good as any made with sugar.

the author's web site

the book at Amazon

I have Graham Kerr's Splenda cookbook too - I have not made as many of the recipes but the couple I tried were very good.

I also have Type II diabetes.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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There are many different kinds of Stevia product, refined in different ways from the leaves of the plant. Some are white, others dark brown. The brown stevias tend to have a woody, almost maple-like flavor with some liquorice and other root flavors. It doesn't pass as sugar, but it has interesting flavor profile. I have no experience cooking or baking with it, so I don't know how it reacts with heat or other foods chemicals.

There is almost overwhelming evidence that stevia is safe. It's been used as a sweetener for thousands of years in Asia and South America. I haven't seen a single evidence-based allegation about potential problems. Suspicion is that food industry lobbies (who have a strong interest in pattentable sugar substitutes) have exerted influence on the FDA in this matter.

If you look on PubMed, you can actually find a decent number of clinical trials that support Stevia as an anti-diabetic supplement. It has a tendency to lower and to stabilize blood sugar, which cuiously has been known about for a long time in some native cultures. Unfortunately, as far as i can tell, these clinical demonstrate beneficial effects only with huge doses of stevia ... considering how sweet it is to begin with, you'd never get the benefit of it as a supplement if you're using it as a sweetener. But wouldn't worry for a second about sweetening food with it if you like the taste.


Notes from the underbelly

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I like to use erythritol in my cooking and baking. I find it has absolutely no offensive flavours when used in my cooking and baking applications, with the exception of chocolate confections.

I've used it successfully in fruit pies and cakes, cheesecakes, and in sweet-and-sour savoury dishes.


Edited by FlavoursGal (log)

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I've been using Stevia, an herbal sugar substitute, mainly for my oatmeal.

Can anyone tell me more about the process of making this "sugar"?

Stevia is labelled as a drug and not a food and I'm curious as to why.

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Well, stevia is an "herbal supplement"... I think they have their own niche between regulations... not a food, not a drug...

As to what it is? Stevia is a plant. Its leaves taste sweet. Look it up on wikipedia...

I find that it has a sharp catnip-like aroma that is not particularly appealing to me.


Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Well, stevia is an "herbal supplement"... I think they have their own niche between regulations... not a food, not a drug...

As to what it is?  Stevia is a plant.  Its leaves taste sweet.  Look it up on wikipedia...

I find that it has a sharp catnip-like aroma that is not particularly appealing to me.

Yes, I know what Stevia is. My question is how do they process this plant into sugar or the liquid form? Apparently one can grow this plant and make their own sweetener.

I also know there is a controversy about the labelling of Stevia between the sugar companies and Stevia producers.

It is used by diabetics who do not want the conventional sugar substitute (aspartame, saccharin, etc.)

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There is no sugar in stevia, so it is processed into sugar in exactly the same way as aspartame or saccharin are processed into sugar: it isn't.

Since stevia is not allowed to be sold as a food additive, I'd be really surprised to find a box of fine white crystals derived from stevia on the shelf.

Not to say it wouldn't be possible. I'd imagine you'd shred and steep the stevia in a solvent that most effectively dissolves the sweetening compounds and leaves undesired compounds behind. Then take the saturated solvent and evaporate it off leaving the sweetening compounds behind. Then pick a neutral flavored white crystalline looking substance and mix it in with the sweetening compounds in proportions that sweeten by volume like an equivalent volume of sugar would. That's how you'd derive a sugar-looking stuff from a stevia plant.


Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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There is no sugar in stevia, so it is processed into sugar in exactly the same way as aspartame or saccharin are processed into sugar: it isn't.

Since stevia is not allowed to be sold as a food additive, I'd be really surprised to find a box of fine white crystals derived from stevia on the shelf. 

Not to say it wouldn't be possible.  I'd imagine you'd shred and steep the stevia in a solvent that most effectively dissolves the sweetening compounds and leaves undesired compounds behind.  Then take the saturated solvent and evaporate it off leaving the sweetening compounds behind.  Then pick a neutral flavored white crystalline looking substance and mix it in with the sweetening compounds in proportions  that sweeten by volume like an equivalent volume of sugar would.  That's how you'd derive a sugar-looking stuff  from a stevia plant.

Thanks for the inspiration. I think this is worth experimenting. Now to find me a stevia plant or seeds.

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I learned the hard way that I am allergic to stevia. Not one of the refined product but the dried leaf (which at the time was the only way it was sold) which I put in my teapot with loose tea.

So try a little at first before you jump in completely. I learned after my experience with hives and itching and swollen eyes, that people who have allergies to plants like honeysuckle and jasmine, also may be allergic to stevia.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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There are many conspiracy theories about Stevia. In general it boils down to many people believing that the FDA is somehow aiding the larger chemical manufacturers (Monsanto, Ajinomoto etc) by preventing a competing sweetner from entering the market. It may just be that the FDA hasn't seen enough data on the safety. Thus many companies have creatively been selling stevioside/rebaudiosides as suppliments.

There are a few products where steviosides are sold in boxes of packets like some of the other sweetners. I've seen these at the market along with the liquids.

An alergy or reaction to stevia leaves should not be related to stevioside or the processed sweetner from Stevia. Leaves contain many other factors.

A quick book search for Stevia in the title resulted in at least 12 cook books for Stevia. Here are a few:

Sugar-Free Cooking with Stevia

ISBN-13: 978-1928906117

The Stevia Cookbook: Cooking with Nature's Calorie-Free Sweetener

ISBN-13: 978-0895299260

Stevia Sweet Recipes: Sugar Free - Naturally!

ISBN-13: 978-1890612092

Baking With Stevia: Recipes for the Sweet Leaf

ISBN-13: 978-0965607308


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'Wheylow' is the only real sugar substitute. I find all forms of artificial sweeteners abhorrent but whey low is truly amazing. It has 75% less calories than sugar, used 1:1 in recipes and also has a very low glycemic index (75% less than sugar).

 

I do everything with it from stir it in my coffee to baking to making ice cream. Follow all recipes as you would normally just switch out the sugar with wheylow. . with It's not really artificial since it's a blend of  fructose and lactose (IIRC) which makes it that much more palatable. It is truly amazing.

 

Joe

 

PS. I have no affiliation with the product or company.  

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WheyLow, as I understand it, has a fairly low GI # but that is due to the presence of fairly high percentage of fructose. I have read the WheyLow site and I find it a bit strange that I cannot find an exact percentage of fructose in its mix. Maybe I just missed it. The issue with fructose is its effect on the liver (again, as I understand it - I am not a doctor or scientist) as it contributes to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. That is a big concern with agave, for instance - which is a prime reason I avoid it.

 

I really just think the answer for everyone (diabetics and non-diabetics alike) is to reduce the use of sugar as much as possible and use real cane sugar when you must have a sweetener at all. Every one of these artificial (even supposedly naturally derived) sweeteners seems to have some issue or another - even if some taste better than others. Real sugar contains fructose as well, of course, but, apparently it is better balanced with sucrose than the artificial sweeteners are.

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I really just think the answer for everyone (diabetics and non-diabetics alike) is to reduce the use of sugar as much as possible and use real cane sugar when you must have a sweetener at all. Every one of these artificial (even supposedly naturally derived) sweeteners seems to have some issue or another - even if some taste better than others. Real sugar contains fructose as well, of course, but, apparently it is better balanced with sucrose than the artificial sweeteners are.

 

Yep! ALL sweeteners have issues!

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