Agave Nectar is a natural sweetener taken from the Agave cactus plant. There are many different opinions on whether Agave Nectar is truly raw or not, whether it can be made raw or not, and whether they sell it raw or not.
Below is an opinion on the topic from a distributor.
An Interpretation on Agave Nectar
The Agave plant is native to North America, primarily Southern, Central Mexico up to the Southern United States. Some use Agave syrup in liquors such as Tequila and Mezcal because of its high fermentabilty. Pure Tequila uses only the Blue Agave plant, which is reserved almost solely for the manufacturing of Tequila and is regulated by the Mexican Government.
There are many suppliers of Agave syrup in the market today. Some supply a standard syrup, some organic, kosher, dark or light. We supply a unique, specially processed Agave syrup that is the “rawest” in the market today. What is raw? Raw foods are usually uncooked and preferably organic. Raw foods may be fresh, raw, sun-dried, dehydrated, fermented, soaked and sprouted. Raw foods diets can include vegetables, fruits, sprouts, grains, seeds, nuts, flowers, herbs, oils, sweeteners, spices, meat and fats.
Agave syrup dissolves easily in other liquids, making it easy to use. The light Agave syrup seems best for a multiple of uses. It has a neutral flavor that does not interfere with a food’s natural flavors. The darker Agave syrups have a more intense taste that can alter flavors. Agave syrup is an excellent, healthy alternative to refined sugars and artificial sweeteners. It is very low on the glycemic index, making it safe for people monitoring sugar levels. Agave syrup is approximately 1.5 times sweeter than sugar or honey. In recipes, replace sugar or honey using 25% less Agave syrup. There are thousands of recipes and foods that would be well complimented by our Agave syrup including beverages, smoothies, deserts, etc.
Our Agave plants are grown in Southern Mexico, primarily in and around Oaxaca, a region known for its Agave. Agave Americana (augustifolia) and Agave Mapisaga (var. mapisaga) are two of the Agave plant species used in our product. The plants used for our Agave syrup are grown in their natural habitat and allowed to flourish on their own. No herbicides or pesticides are ever used and only a natural fertilizer made from plant remains is used and spread at the base of the Agave plant. The plants are occasionally watered at night during high temperatures to keep them from losing important fluids and nutrients. Agave plants have tiny pores that close during the day because of the heat. Closing the pores allows the plant to retain water. Hay is also used to cover the plants during extreme temperatures to shelter the plant from harmful elements. When the pores reopen in the evening, the plant takes in much need carbon dioxide.
Harvesting of our Agave syrup is done twice daily, once in the early morning when the sun is just rising and again in the early evening when the sun is setting. The syrup is best collected while retaining nutrients and while the plant’s pores remain as closed as possible. Planting of younger plants is also done during these early morning or later afternoon periods. The younger plants can be separated and replanted (cloning), allowing the parent to continue and flourish.
An Agave plant reaches maturity at approximately 8 years of age. Most of the Agave syrup in the market today is collected from plants 8 to 10 years of age. Our Agave syrup is collected from plants 10 to 12 years of age. The older plants seem to be best for syrup output, quantity and handling. The average Agave plant used for collecting our syrup reaches one meter in height and one meter in diameter. The Agave plant can produce up to 2,500 liters of syrup in a one-year period or so. The Agave plants are grown and separated by age. This helps keep older plants from taking nutrients from the younger plants. At the age of 4 years or younger, the Agave plant is castrated to keep the plant from flowering. Sugar levels are highest when the Agave plant begins to flower because nutrients are being stored and increased for the plant to seed. However, seeds are never produced because of the castration to the plant. When the Agave plant is allowed to seed, the flower can reach up to 2 meters in height.
One must be extremely careful when coming into contact with the Agave plant. Agave plants typically have long spine like leaves with needles along the edges. The plant can be harmful to the touch. The plant can also produce a toxic liquid from the leaves that when in contact with human skin can cause burning and other irritations.
This part of the plant should not be confused with Agave fruit, which is located in the center of the plant. When harvesting our Agave syrup a small hole or gash is put into the fruit using a small tool called a “Coa-De Jima” or an “Acocote”. Our Agave syrup is then siphoned from the fruit. When the syrup is depleted from the fruit, the fruit will begin to gather more syrup. The fruit is typically siphoned twice a day until the fruit will yield no more syrup. The syrup can have a milky like substance from the Agave plant that is later filtered and processed out during the final processing of the syrup. When the Agave fruit will produce no more syrup, the fruit is removed and wrapped in a mesh cloth, smashed and pressed for any syrup that the fruit may still contain. It is then made into a pulp and used as fertilizer. The Agave plant itself can be cloned again. Once the Agave plant has exhausted its supply of syrup, it is then cloned or used as fertilizer for other Agave plants. Seeds are allowed to form on some plants for planting purposes.
The collected Agave syrup is then run through a number of mesh screens to remove and collect any of the plant’s fibers and to obtain clarity. Once our Agave syrup is thoroughly filtered, it is poured into large stainless steel vats and slowly heated at low temperatures not to exceed 120 degrees F. The heating is done on traditional adobe style brick stoves located in large bamboo wood-style huts. The fire is fed with wood from an opening found outside the hut. This method prevents cross contamination.