Question re Xylitol

donna_loomisFebruary 12, 2014

Has anyone used this as a sweetener? I'm looking for some alternatives to Splenda. I bought some light agave nectar and some powdered Xylitol at the health food store near my office the other day. The Xylitol is in the form of rather large crystals (reminds me of "fancy" sugar). I know that it is difficult to dissolve in cold liquids, so I boiled some water and mixed a small amount with about a cup of Xylitol. My thinking was that I could then use this concentrated liquid as a sweetener. However, this morning I opened the container and the liquid was still there, but there was a hardened layer at the bottom of the container that had magically formed into large crystals again, yet was all one solid piece. The water did still have a sweet taste, but I think it would be much sweeter if the rest of the Xylitol had remained liquid. It isn't an inexpensive sweetener, so I would like to use all of it, not just some of it. Any tips on usage would be appreciated.

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Xylitol isn't without some cautions for users, including diarrhea, and is one sweetener I tend to avoid because of that. Splenda makes me horribly sick, so I avoid it, too.

Have you tried Erythritol? I occasionally use Swerve (a name brand for an Erythritol product) and it comes in granulated and powdered versions, which is nice. It is a zero-calorie product. I especially like to use it in recipes I make for diabetic friends. It's very sweet, but doesn't have an aftertaste like stevia does, but the sweetness gives a different mouth-feel than sugar. I've made a recipe for Gingerbread Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze (Low Carb and Gluten Free) many times using Swerve (erythritol) - I've also made a half-recipe and baked the batter in a mini-bundt cake pan (12 muffin-size cakes) for individual servings.

Although I've used agave nectar for a couple decades, I've switched to low-glycemic Palm Sugar (aka coconut palm sugar) as my primary "sugar" product the last few years. It has a rich caramel flavor, looks like and works like brown sugar, and has a good nutrition profile for a sugar. It reacts like regular sugar in most recipes as far as sweetness and the ability to brown, and it will feed yeast like sugar, and your baked goods will stay moist - which alcohol sweeteners like Xylitol, and chemical sweeteners won't. If a recipe requires white sugar and brown sugar, I'll use Swerve for the white sugar and Palm Sugar for the brown.

You can buy a liquid version - Coconut Nectar - but I just make my own, to save money, and use the liquid version when a liquid sweetener (honey, syrup, etc.) is called for in a recipe, generally with the same results.

Homemade Coconut Nectar
1-1/2 c. palm sugar
1/2 c. water
Heat in a pan over a warm burner until dissolved - stir occasionally. Place in an air-tight glass container and store in the refrigerator.

A friend recently gave me some Monk Fruit Sweetener (zero\-calorie), but I haven't researched or tried it yet. I use stevia (in many forms, including my homemade "brew" from the stevia I grew last summer). 

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 4:20PM
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Yes, I read that Xylitol can sometimes cause diarrhea. I'm not planning on using much of it at a time and I'm not planning on baking with it (I read that it does not allow baked goods to rise as they should).

Thank you for the information about Erythritol. I will definitely check that out.

In the meantime, I would really like to learn how to keep Xylitol as a liquid. Otherwise, I will continually kick myself for spending eight dollars for the bag.

And what about the Palm sugar. You mentioned how it looks and behaves, but I'm wondering about the flavor. I don't want to add another flavor to the things I'm planning on using it in. Does it have a pronounced flavor, other than sweetening, or is it pretty neutral?

I got the light agave, which doesn't really add a flavor. I know that the darker agave does.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 4:56PM
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I have a bag of it. I can't use it. A friend of ours uses it all the time, and I have eaten pies she used it in with no problem. But when I used it in something, can't remember what it was now, it made me sick. DD and I can't use artificial sweeteners. Makes our hearts race. So, I just limit my carbs. If I want something made with regular sugar, I do. I just try not to eat too much of it.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 4:59PM
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Palm sugar has a bold caramel flavor. Much more pronounced than brown sugar, but not as much as molasses. It also doesn't dissolve as well as white/brown sugar if you were to use it in a hot beverage. It will cream with fat, but it takes a lot of beating to get the job done.

Since my last post, I took a packet of Monk Fruit Sweetener and tasted it on the tip of my finger. It tasted like sweet vodka to me (I don't imbibe, so I didn't care for the flavor). No aftertaste, however, like stevia. I'll have to give it a test in food.


    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 6:09PM
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Do be aware that xylitol is extremely poisonous to dogs.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 6:21AM
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