Erythritol – What is it?
Erythritol – What is it?
Erythritol is a natural sweetener that has been around a while and has recently become popular for low carb diets.
Low carb diets became really popular 10 or so years ago, but utilized artificial sweeteners such as Equal, Sweet and Low and most recently Splenda.
With research results showing the bad effects of artificial sweeteners, the public demand became high enough to bring natural sweeteners into the main stream.
There are several natural sweeteners out there. One we are all familiar with is Stevia. The only down fall to Stevia is that it has a distinct taste and people either love or hate.
And so the search continues. The newest natural sweeteners that have come to the table are Xylitol, Sorbitol and Erythritol. Xylitol is used in a lot of Sugar Free candies these days, but has the downfall of a possible laxative effect.
Erythritol (along with Xylitol and Sorbitol) is a sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohols are sugar substitutes that are either extracted from plants or manufactured from starches.
Sugar alcohols also occur naturally in plants. Erythritol is found naturally in small amounts in grapes, melons, mushrooms, and fermented foods such as wine, beer, cheese, and soy sauce, which indicates that it is a byproduct of metabolism of sugar. It can also be found in the tissues and fluids of humans and other animals, which is further evidence that Erythritol is made as the result of sugar breakdown.
Erythritol is usually made from plant sugars. Sugar is mixed with water and then fermented with a natural culture into Erythritol. It is then filtered, allowed to crystallize, and then dried. The finished product is white granules or powder that resembles sugar.
Erythritol has almost no calories. It has .2 calories per gram. It has not been found to affect blood sugar or insulin levels and has a zero glycemic index.
Erythritol is a smaller molecule then xylitol and sorbitol and so is absorbed in the small intestine and for the most part excreted unchanged in urine. This is unique to Erythritol and is why it doesn’t cause the digestive upset and diarrhea that the other sugar alcohols have been known to do.
Erythritol has a clean, sweet taste and it’s more similar in taste to sugar.
For all of the above reasons we have chosen Erythritol as our sweetener of choice for this season’s holiday recipes.
The Use of Erythritol
Erythritol has some uniquenesses that must be known when using it to cook. Erythritol can be hard to find. You can find it on-line and in some health food stores.
What you can find in your local grocery store is a product called Truvia. This product is predominantly Erythritol. It also has a little bit of Stevia (also called rebiana) and “natural flavors”. Truvia is a good and easily accessible Erythritol. The conversion for Truvia to sugar is on our Conversion Chart.
Without being mixed with Stevia the Erythritol is only 70% as sweet as sugar, requiring more of it.
I have found that the common mixture is ½ a cup of powdered Erythritol to ¼- ½ teaspoon of powdered Stevia which is the conversion for 1 cup of Sugar.
So, for each of our holiday dessert recipes we will either use Truvia or manually mix the Erythritol and Stevia measure above.
Erythritol does not dissolve as easily as sugar. Anything baked or heated dissolves fine, but with my chocolate frosting, for instance, I had to learn the art of dissolving Erythritol and I have put all these instructions in the recipes.
I wanted you to have all of this information before I released all of our new dessert recipes, so you would understand what you used. I have also found that if you understand all of the ingredients you can effectively adjust and personalize the recipe to fit your needs.
We recently had a taste testing of pecan pie, pumpkin pie, cheese cake, sour cream cake, snow pudding, chocolate peanut butter cake and lemon bars. We are reworking the chocolate peanut butter cake and lemon bars, but the rest of the desserts were a total hit and are coming to you soon.