Agave bad, date syrup good?
Hey! So I've been a pretty big fan of Agave for awhile, I know it's not considered pure raw but I've been buying the brands that boast their processing temp to be under 118 degrees...but now I've been reading some articles about how none of it is good for you because the companies lie about the way it gets made, and the darker agave means it's been cooked at a temperature that's too hot and it's been burned, and ah! So annoying! There's no way to know what brands are good and which ones are full of it. So, even though I was excited by all of the health benefits that pure agave can give, I just don't trust the ones that say they're pure. So I need to switch to another sweetener since I really do need a sweet something in my tea and for other recipes, otherwise I feel totally unsatififed. I was thinking about making date syrup with some mejools that I have, but I don't really have a recipe... Does anyone out there know a good one? Or a good substitute for a syrup-style sweetener? Also, I've tried to dehydrate dates, leaving them in for almost 48hours, but they were still soft. How do you dehydrate a date??? Thank you!
Most of the dates you buy in the store are already dehydrated and they will stay soft. I usually throw them in the fridge (dont' know if I need to) and let them sit out for an hour so they are more pliable if I need to make something. Then I pit them, toss them in a food processor and blend them into a paste (you know it's done when it's just a ball rolling around). If you need a syrup to put in teas, you can just soak a few pitted dates for 45 minutes, put the dates in a processor and slowly add the date soak water until you have syrup consistency. It's easy.
FWIW, I still use agave in some recipes and also use yacon syrup. I'll use jerusalem aritchoke syrup as well, but only in savory recipes as I don't particularly care for how it tastes. Both are low glycemic and high in inulin, which feeds probiotics. I know these run the risk of not being raw, but after reading all the pro and con articles and talking to my raw foods resource, I'm comfortable with the decision to use these syrups in moderation. I've read the articles too and threw out certain brands of agave - I think it's important to do your research, but it isn't a substance I equate with processed sugar.
Just to clarify: I think the only people who claim that the dark agave is cooked are the people who make the clear agave. If you see agave nectar being tapped from the agave plant, it is often brown. I use agave because of its low glycemic index and convenience.
Anyway, I agree that just soaking dates in water and blending will make a date syrup. It should be kept in the refrigerator, and has a limited shelf life.
Why are you trying to dehydrate dates? To make a dry sugar? In any case, I suspect chopping them first would shorten the drying time, but I'd suggest not bothering.
PS - Just to head off the debate, those who say that agave nectar has the same fructose levels as high-fructose corn syrup are talking about agave made by an experimental method that has never been used commercially.
Thank you for the info, Camiheartsraw! And yes, Ambiguous, I had chopped the dates up before trying to dehydrate, I wanted to achieve the yummy bits that you find in trail mix but those are obviously a different type of date than what I have... So on the agave, have you read somewhere about how the processed types are experimental and have only been used commercially? I'm just totally confuse because I loved the stuff, for the low GI and all that, but I've been reading some articles that are making me unsure. If you've gotten info from somewhere that I can read, that would be awesome! But thank you for the feedback, either way :)
I hear you about the agave concerns. I have switched from agave to honey. I can buy it locally from a farmer. It's not vegan, but for me it works even though I eat a very strict raw lifestyle. I don't have any good date tips either, but I'll watch this thread with interest.
The Rawtarian - Tips and recipes for raw fooders
Hey VeggieBean, here's an article (with links) that covers much of the agave controversy (it's from the president of Madhava, but the production process should be the same for most if not all agave manufacturers):
And here's another company's explanation of how they produce their agave: http://www.wholesomesweeteners.com/HechoEnMexico.html
I believe the date bits you find in trail mix are usually mixed with oat flour, and probably not raw. However, I don't see why dehydrating chopped-up dates wouldn't be just as tasty--though maybe they'd take a couple of days? Perhaps making a really thick, chunky date "syrup" and dehydrating it in a sheet, then chopping it up would be faster, because there would be more surface area exposed to the moving dehydrator air . . . but maybe that's a fantasy, and it would actually be a disaster. Sorry I don't have an answer on that one.
Hey Ambiguous! Thank you for those links, the first one was especially helpful! It's been annoying not to be able to use agave these last couple weeks, I too buy local raw honey, but it's not as easy to use due to it's thickness. Now I feel ok using the Madhava brand :) And that's a good idea about using a date paste and trying to dehydrate them that way. So helpful, I love goneraw! Thank you again!
I'm glad the link was useful. Keep in mind that Madhava no longer produces a raw agave nectar; I think they heat to ~160F. They were my favorite brand, though; I find some of the other raw agaves hard to digest.