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making fruit sweeteners  RSS feed

 
rachael hamblin
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I'm trying to figure out how our household could make our own sweetener from local materials and am wondering if there's a way to make a sweetener from fruit.  I was wondering if apples might do the trick.  Paul said he has heard of people making apple syrup, and even apple sugar.  Has anyone here tried this or something similar (or with similar results)?
 
paul wheaton
master steward
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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First, there is apple jelly and "apple juice concentrate".  Two things that would definitely be a sweetener, but not quite sugar.

I tried doing some google work on this and didn't get far.

 
Dave Boehnlein
Posts: 294
Location: Orcas Island, WA
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I can't speak from experience, but I've talked to Doug Bullock about natural food stores and co-ops from the 60s and 70s. According to Doug the stores today are a whole different animal. Back then everyone was moving away from processed foods and sugar was anathema. Doug always talks about how huge fruit sweeteners were back then. Apparently all kinds of products were using fruit sweeteners instead of sugar.

Doug might mention it in a talk he gave on food and nutrition at the Iowa Ecofair back in 2006, but I'm not sure. You can download that talk from http://www.permacultureportal.com/network_resources.html (it's a good one).

Enjoy!
 
rachael hamblin
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Somebody mentioned sugar beets to me the other day, apparently you can grow them up here.  After some poking around I found this recipe of sorts:  "Scrub the beet well and chop it up into small pieces.  In a large pan, cover the beet pieces with water and bring to a boil.  Cook the beets til they are tender and the juice is extracted. Drain out the juice and reserve it.  Boil down the juice to about 1/3 it's original volume. Let cool and scrape out the crystals. Boil the juice again, til it is all gone, remove the crystalized juice again.  Your sugar will not be pure white and it may have a slight beety flavor, but it will be far superior nutritionally to refined sugar.  Store our sugar in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Use it just as you would refined sugar."

Anybody tried this or tried growing sugar beets?
 
Leah Sattler
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If you decide to stray from the fruit sweetener idea ,maybe you could find a source of local honey? or grow stevia. http://www.stevia.net/
 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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I've heard of lots of people planting stevia - anybody grown some and harvested some?

 
Charley Hoke
Posts: 66
Location: Blue Ridge Mountains
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stevia is on our list to grow, I have used it and was satisfied with it. However if buying it, compared to sugar it can be costly.

We have a natural foods restaurant in our area that offers it in little packets like sugar and the artificial goop.
 
Susan Monroe
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Location: Western WA
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I read somewhere lately that the fresh leaves of the perennial herb Sweet Cecily (Myrrhis odorata) can be added to foods (like rhubarb) as a sweetener.  Dried leaves don't work, they have to be fresh.

This was the first I heard about it, but I guess that's where the 'sweet' comes from in its common name.

I have some fresh seed if you would like some.  Let me know.

Sue
 
                                
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I deffinetly approve of the herb Stevia - I've never grown it but I have tasted it and it's really sweet. if you powdered up the dried leaves you could use it in much the same way as sugar, only of course it is green. If that was a problem I sopose you could bleach it, but then you'd get the health unbenifits of eating something that's bleached. (Like sugar). Plus it seems a bit of a hassle to me, and for most sugar-purposes green shouldn't be too much of a problem. Is it?

Oh by the way, did you know Stevia is actualy good for your teeth?

x DD, x
 
Jennifer Smith
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Location: Zone 5
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I have grown stevia, from seed.  Tiny little seeds grow into tiny seedlings that keep growing.  Nice plants, easy for me to grow.  Not frost hardy.  Not all plants taste the same, some taste more goaty than others...much like goats milk.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
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Location: Oakland, CA
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Judging by the labels of industrial foods, there seem to be some pear varieties that make for a good sweetener.

Apples have a fair amount of pectin, which might benefit from some enzyme action: it's a polysaccharide, and hydrolysis would transform it from a thickener to a sweetener.

There might be some varieties of sorghum that grow in your area, and can be used for molasses.

Barley and other grains can be malted to make sugar.  This is mostly done for beer or whisky, but malt sugar tastes good with chocolate and dairy IMHO.  Malt enzymes can also be used on adjunct grains, like corn and rice.  I'm not sure if this would work on pectin.

If you want some refined sugar, you could consider filtering syrup through charcoal yourself.
 
Jami McBride
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Location: PNW Oregon
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Some people I know and myself use raisins and datelets (date pieces) as sweeteners in baked goods and deserts with much success.  You will need to grind either of these up real well adding some liquid from your recipe.  Or make a thick syrup by grinding with water until you reach a desired consistency and storing in the fridge.  Their sweetness is like that of honey or molasses, it is a stronger sweet taste than white sugar.  Drying fruit concentrates their sugars....

I use stevia (refined white) in my coffee/tea and green (unrefined) in my salad dressings and other recipes.   I've started growing it this year, and it's doing great.  I have dried some of the leaves and ground them up for use, but green stevia has a pronounced 'green' flavor that doesn't taste good in anything lettuce/grass wouldn't taste good in.  I do not know how to refine stevia - maybe I'll check out that link to stevia.com above....

~Jami
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
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Location: Oakland, CA
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Most refined sweeteners are passed through activated charcoal.  Stevia is the exception to quite a few rules, though, so be prepared for that to not work. 

I have a devious plan to feed spent charcoal filters from sugar refining to chickens, to mellow their droppings and grind the charcoal into better terra preta...
 
Permaculture isn't that hard to understand. Sometimes a little bump helps: richsoil.com/cards
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