Over the years I’ve cut back on my family’s sugar consumption especially the white refined stuff that has become quite vilified as really bad for us and rightly so. I don’t need to rehash all of it here since there is so much information publicly available online. I’ve shared a few articles here in case you haven’t yet heard about any of this.
I did, however, want to share a few replacement or substitution ideas that I’ve come across so far because I know this is important to some of you because of allergy, intolerance or just preference. The most widely accepted and commonly known sugar substitute is honey, of course. We have some really fantastic local honey producers here in Luxembourg. They can be found in most of the grocery markets around the country and are easy to spot by their red lids. They can also be found in the many commune and City Centre farmer’s markets throughout the country.
Molasses is also a great substitute but using this, you must take into consideration that molasses has a very strong, distinct flavor and can alter your end result. It’s not very common here and the only place I find it with regularity is Little Britain. I personally appreciate having access to molasses since my absolute favorite childhood cookie is my grandma’s spicy molasses cookie. My daughter has experimented with this cookie and developed a few free from versions that have been a big hit. I will share more about this cookie in a future post, possibly when the cooler weather returns.
In perusing the sugar substitute section at Naturata, I’ve found a few new ones that have been interesting to try. Rice syrup is similar in consistency to honey. I think it’s a bit sweeter. I like that it is gluten free and glucose free.
There are 2 types of coconut sugars, one is from the blossom (palm) and the other from the bark. I’ve only tried to coconut blossom (palm) sugar and find it has an earthen depth about it and a bit sweeter than white sugar. Like molasses it has a slightly unique flavor and surprisingly does not taste like coconut just a moderate sweetness in granule form. All that said, I like coconut blossom sugar as an alternative. I haven’t tried the coconut bark sugar yet.
Date syrup is also a great substitute. It also has a strong and distinct flavor and quite unique in its depth. It is a bit expensive but worth the price. I did learn something about it though, by mishap. A friend who had visited Israel brought back the date syrup shown below (not available in Lux). Unfortunately, it has been cut with sugar and glucose syrup thus changing both the flavor and nutrient value we expected from a pure date syrup. So, watch labels carefully and make sure you know what your date syrup really has in it. I’ve had the pure stuff and it’s pretty amazing. You can find pure date syrup at Naturata. I love to spread it on toast, add it to my plain yogurt or put some in my oatmeal (gluten free of course).
Sucanat (aka: sucre de canne naturel or sugar cane natural) is unrefined sugar cane (juice) that is extracted from the sugar cane, reduced to intensify the flavor and then dried. It has a distinct yet milder flavor similar then the previously shown molasses. It’s “white sugar” equivalent is evaporated sugar cane (juice) which is dried but not reduced like Sucanat. Both are a dry product and come in granules similar to white refined sugar. I’ve found Fair Trade cane sugar at Lidl which helps say a few euros.
Stevia is another popular sugar substitute and available here. Be cautious of the offering in the grocery stores as some are now being mixed with sugar and even chemical compounds and not pure Stevia. Also there are some being marketed as “compared to Stevia” but are not actually even close. Again, Naturata carries Stevia in dry and liquid form.
With a google search of your choice for sugar substitution, you can find the best product and the accompanying quantity for the types of cooking and baking your are working towards. I highly recommend starting with a tried and true recipe if you are substituting for the first time and unfamiliar with one of the sweetening items.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means just the ones I’m most familiar with and have passed through my kitchen. It’s a place to start if you are looking for an available substitute in Luxembourg.