Granular Fruit Sweeteners: White grape juice and grain sweeteners that have been dehydrated and granulated.
Honey: A whole food made by bees from flower nectar.
Maltose: Sprouted grains and cooked rice, heated and fermented until starch turns to sugar. Available in Chinese markets.
Maple Syrup: Boiled-down sap of maple trees. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. Maple syrup has twice as much calcium as milk. Not all maple syrup is pure; some contains traces of formaldehyde, a carcinogen, so it is best to buy organic maple syrup.
Maple Sugar: Maple sugar is what is left when all of the liquid had been cooked out of maple syrup. It was how Native Americans preferred their maple as it was easy to transport. Maple sugar has a wonderful, maple and earthy flavor that lends depth to baking and cooking. It is about twice as sweet as refined white sugar.
Molasses: Unsulphured molasses is made from the juice of sun-ripened cane; sulfured molasses is a byproduct of refined sugar; blackstrap molasses is the residue of the cane syrup after the sugar crystals have been separated. It is very nutritious, with high levels of calcium, iron, and potassium.
Natural and Organic Sugar: Such as certified organically grown from Florida Crystals, these sweeteners are minimally processed sugar cane. The syrup is dehydrated, then milled into a powder.
Rice Syrup: A traditional Asian sweetener, brown rice syrup is made from rice starch converted into maltose, a complex sugar. Rice syrup is the mildest-flavored of the liquid sweeteners and contains trace amounts of B vitamins and minerals. Use it interchangeably with honey in cooking and baking, to sweeten hot or cold beverages and cereals, or as a spread for fresh breads.
Sorghum Syrup: Sorghum cane juice, boiled to a syrup. Sorghum cane tends to need few pesticides due to natural insect resistance.
Stevia: Stevia is derived from an herb native to Paraguay. It is extremely sweet, and a little goes a very long way. This herb is controversial as a sweetener, The FDA has approved it as a dietary supplement, but not as a sweetener. Available as a greenish powder, stevia imparts a powerful sweetness with an herbal undertone. As sweeteners go, it is quite expensive, though a little goes a very long way.
Sucanat: The trade name for this product stands for SUgar CAne NATural, and is made from evaporated sugar cane juice. It is then milled into granules much the same size as white sugar, but with a tawny hue. Sucanat is about 88 percent sucrose, or simple sugar, as compared to table sugar, which is 99 percent sucrose, but it retains more vitamins, minerals, and other trace nutrients found in sugar cane. Sucanat has a mild but distinct flavor, with a hint of molasses. As an all-purpose sweetener for baking, cooking, and in hot or cold drinks, use it as a 1-to-1 replacement for white sugar.
NOTE: Aspartame (brands Nutrasweet or Equal), and saccharin, are artificial sweeteners. A significant body of evidence suggests that artificial sweeteners can cause health problems. Many doctors now warm pregnant women to avoid any products containing Aspartame.
Next: sweetener equivalents for sugar