Erythritol

Victoria BC (which I assume refers to the city, rather than a name and initials) responded to the Energy Bar thread with this query:

Where can you find erythritol? What is it? Is that the sugar alcohol? How much do you usually use in a recipe?

Erythritol is, indeed, a sugar alcohol or polyol. It has been gaining a lot of popularity because, of all the polyols, erythritol has the lowest rate of absorption -- pretty much zero -- and the least risk of gastric effect. It's not a perfect substitute for sugar, but it's darned good.

Erythritol has a cooling effect in the mouth -- think of those sugar-free cough drops that feel cool on your tongue; it's like that. This is fine in cold drinks -- there are a couple of erythritol-and-stevia sweetened diet sodas on the market now -- and certainly no problem in frozen desserts. However, the first time I used the stuff I made a batch of peanut butter cookies that made my mouth cold, which was a tad disconcerting, though we ate them all.

Too, erythritol is more likely to crystallize than maltitol (or sugar, for that matter,) which can make things gritty. For example: I made a wonderful sugar-free chocolate sauce with maltitol. Tried the same recipe with erythritol, and it was beautiful when hot, but as soon as it hit the sugar-free ice cream it turned gritty. Not the texture you're looking for in a sundae.

That being said, Hershey's has a new erythritol-based sugar-free chocolate syrup on the market (which I intend to try and review), so it can be done. I just need to experiment some more.

Erythritol is about 70% as sweet as sugar. In baking recipes I usually go with 50%-75% Splenda granular/25-50% erythritol substituted for sugar. I don't bother to increase the measurement of erythritol to make up the extra sweetness. I've gotten good results, but keep in mind that because I've been sugar-free so long, things taste sweeter to me than they may to you. (Heck, sometimes even broccoli tastes sweet!)

I can get erythritol at both my local health food stores, Sahara Mart and Bloomingfoods. But if you can't find it locally, you can order it through our friends at CarbSmart. I'm betting you can get it through Amazon.com, too. You can get everything through Amazon.com!

You can also get erythritol blended with stevia (herbal sweetener) at your local grocery store under the brand name Truvia. I haven't tried this in recipes because I've only seen it in little packets, and who wants to rip all of those packets open to get enough sweetener for a batch of cookies? But I see on their website that they now have Truvia Spoonable. I'll try it in a recipe soon, and report back.

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Erythritol

I have been using erythritol for over two years, mainly in muffins and breads and a few other things, which require sugar. I have learned to drink my tea with just a bit of lemon. I usually buy the erythritol in a 5# size, which usually lasts me for about 6-9 months, depending on my use. I find it has no bitter aftertaste. Since it goes straight to the bladder, it is not absorbed into the body, which differs from other alcohol type sweeteners (like xylitol, maltilol, etc.). Like you have discovered, my personal grudge with it, is that it is difficult to dissolve. I have no problems turning it into a syrup, but I really don't want a syrup in things like cheesecake and cookies. It remains grainy in tea and cheesecakes. The cheesecake I made, tasted as though it had sand in it and was a complete flop to me, although others didn't seem to be turned off by it!! I have only made the one cheesecake and haven't experimented again. In addition erythritol is only 80% as sweet as sugar and does require a little extra. I have tried Stevia, but found it tasted too much like aspertame, with a bitter aftertaste. There is no aftertaste with erythritol. Erythritol is made from beets, carrots and other veggies, just like real sugar, so maybe that helps with the lack of aftertaste.

Unfortunately for me, I am unable to locate it at any of my local health food stores nor at any of my regular grocery stores. Thankfully, it is still available on the internet.

I hope to find the chocolate you mentioned, as I am currently limiting myself to one square daily of a Lindt 85% Cocoa Bar (which has 10 squares). Each square contains about 1.25 carbs, but it DOES contain sugar. I use the unsweetened chocolate for most cooking jobs requiring chocolate and add a little erythritol.

I also read several months ago that Coca-Cola was planning to use erythritol mixed with either aspertame or stevia in one of its Coke products. I might try one, although I drink water 95% of the time. Occasionally I have some tomato juice or club soda, but I try to avoid all the sugar and unnatural sweeteners.

Erythritol syrup

Would you care to share how you make erythritol syrup? I know I'd like to know, and I'm betting others would, too.