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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on,
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Archive for Honey/Sugar/Syrup

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Agave Nectar (Agave Syrup)

Any nutritionally-aware person realizes that sugar tastes great but simply is not good for you.

How about a natural sugar alternative that tastes great and is good for you?

That’s agave nectar (also called agave syrup), made from the juices of the same plant that produces tequila: the blue agave. In the bottle, it looks like honey or maple syrup.

Light agave nectar is a neutral sweetener, though some brands can taste like very light honey. Agave dissolves instantly in cold or hot beverages, and is used to sweeten lighter-flavor foods (like fruit salad).

Dark agave nectar has caramel flavors, and is used in recipes and as a substitute for maple syrup or honey on pancakes, bread and other foods.

The best part is that agave is a low-glycemic food. It has half the glycemic index of honey, maple syrup and table sugar; and it’s 25% to 50% sweeter, so you need much less of it.

Agave is a real find. Make it your “find of the year.”

  • Read the full review of agave nectar.
  • See all the different types of sweeteners in our Sugar & Syrup Glossary.
  • Check out the low-calorie and no-calorie sweeteners in our Artificial Sweeteners Glossary.

    The blue agave plant produces a sweetener
    that looks like honey, but is lighter, easily
    pourable, not as sticky and has half the
    glycemic index (it’s better for you!). Photo by
    Cristian Lazzari | IST.


    GOURMET GIVEAWAY #2 ~ Honey Ridge Farms Crème Trio Gift Set

    These superior flavored honeys from Honey Ridge Farms are blended with fruits or spices. Luscious, yet light on the palate, they are delicious on just about anything.

  • Spread on toast, scones, pancakes and waffles
  • Top ice cream
  • Use as a cheese condiment
  • Add to grilling sauces or marinades
  • And by all means, sweeten tea or other beverages
  • Flavors include Apricot, Blackberry, Cranberry, Raspberry and Spiced. The line is certified kosher by Oregon Kosher and is available at

    Two lucky winners will receive a honey crème trio gift set of three of the flavors.

    Retail Value Of Prize: Approximately $18.99.

  • To learn more about Honey Ridge Farms, visit
  • To Enter This Gourmet Giveaway: Go to the box at the bottom of our Artisan Honeys, Gourmet Sugars & Syrups Page and click to enter your email address for the prize drawing. This contest closes on Monday, January 3rd at noon, Eastern Time. Good luck!

    Spread this honey on just about anything.
    Photo by River Soma | THE NIBBLE.


    GIFT OF THE DAY: Honey Ridge Farms Flavored Honey

    Here’s something sweet and better-for-you: honey is lower on the glycemic index than sugar.

    These superior flavored honeys from Honey Ridge Farms are blended with fruits or spices. Luscious, yet light on the palate, these honey crèmes are delicious on just about anything.

  • Spread on toast, scones, pancakes and waffles
  • Top ice cream
  • Use as a cheese condiment
  • Add to grilling sauces or marinades
  • And by all means, sweeten tea or other beverages
  • Flavors include Apricot, Blackberry, Cranberry, Lemon, Raspberry and Spiced (Cinnamon). The line is certified kosher by Oregon Kosher.

    You can purchase individual jars or a lovely gift crate with three 5.5-ounce jars:

  • Honey Crèmes, two 12-Ounce Jars, your choice of flavors
  • Honey Gift Crate With Three 5.5-Ounce Jars: Apricot, Blackberry & Clover
  • Honey Gift Crate With Three 5.5-Ounce Jars: Cranberry, Raspberry
    & Spiced (Cinnamon)
    Learn all about honey, how to pair honey and food, and find recipes in our Honey Section.

    Discover the fascinating history of honey.


    A gift box of Honey Ridge Farms Honey
    Crème is a sweet, better-for-you gift.
    Photo by River Soma | THE NIBBLE.


    GIFT OF THE DAY: Truffle Cheese & More

    It’s the fresh truffle season. Alas, few of us can afford fresh truffles—$220/ounce for the Italian white Alba truffle (Tuber magnatum pico) and about half that for the French black Périgord truffle (Tuber melanosporum).

    One way we enjoy truffles in a more affordable form is through truffle cheese and truffle honey, which incorporate small pieces of truffle that have broken off from the fab fungi. They smell and taste as wonderful as the whole truffle.

    Murray’s Cheese has put together a truffle lover’s gift set that includes:

  • Cypress Grove Chevre’s Truffle Tremor, one of our favorite cheeses and a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week
  • Creminelli Brothers’ tartufo (truffle) salame,* another NIBBLE Top Pick
  • Delectable white truffle honey from truffle specialist Da Rosario, a Top Pick contender.
  • * “Salame” is how Italians spell it. “Salami” is an American adaptation.


    Three ways to enjoy truffles. Photo

    The three luxurious truffle foods are handsomely packaged in a reusable wood crate for $70 at If truffles and goat cheese aren’t what you had in mind, Murray’s has a build-your-own-gift-crate.

  • See more of our favorite gourmet food gifts for Holiday 2010.
  • See all 100+ holiday gift ideas, conveniently divided into 14 gift lists from Diet and Kids to Kitchenware and Stocking Stuffers.
  • Learn all about truffles in our Truffle Glossary.
  • Comments

    GIFT OF THE DAY: Honey Crème

    Creamed raspberry honey is irresistible.
    Photo by River Soma | THE NIBBLE.


    Honey Ridge Farms has a solution for inexpensive yet delicious small gifts and stocking stuffers.

    The company blends its clover honey with fruit or spice to create Apricot, Blackberry, Cranberry, Raspberry and Spiced Honey Crèmes.

    Luscious, yet light on the palate, these honey crèmes are delicious on just about anything: toast, scones, waffles ice cream, or as a cheese condiment. Add some to grilling sauces or marinades; and by all means, sweeten tea or other beverages. Flavors include Apricot, Blackberry, Cranberry, Raspberry and Spiced.

    The honeys are available in 2.25-ounce, 5.5-ounce and 12-ounce jars at $3.49, $4.99 and $8.99, respectively. For a larger gift, consider a gift crate with three 5.5-ounce jars. Purchase online at

  • See all of our favorite gourmet food gifts for Holiday 2010.
  • Check out the history of honey.
  • Discover the different types of honey.
  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Demerara Sugar

    Demerara sugar. Photo by Glane |


    Demerara sugar is natural brown sugar made by partially refining sugar cane extract. It’s a more nutritious product than what we know as “light” and “dark” brown sugar, which is made by adding molasses to fully refined white sugar, which is stripped of its nutrients.

    (Molasses itself is a by-product of sugar cane refining. It’s the residue that is left after all the sugar crystals are extracted from the cane juice.)

    Demerara sugar is named after the Demerara colony in Guyana, a small independent state on the north coast of South America, where the style of sugar was first produced.

    Demerara is very similar to turbinado sugar, made in Hawaii and popularized in the U.S. as Sugar In The Raw.

    Both are sparkling tan (pale brown) to golden in color, which is the natural color of cane sugar before the color is stripped to white in the refining process. They are dry with pronounced crystals (turbinado is more coarse, demerara is more fine), as opposed to brown sugar, which is moist from the molasses.

    And both are delicious when used in baking and to sweeten beverages, cereal, fruit and yogurt. In addition to sweetness, they add a bit of natural caramel or molasses flavor…which brings us to today’s tip.

    Quite a few dessert and candy recipes call for caramelized sugar, which means placing white granulated sugar in a pan and heating it until the sugar browns and takes on a caramel flavor. You have to continuously stir the sugar so it doesn’t burn.

    But you can skip this step entirely by substituting Demerara sugar.

    We also like the added flavor Demerara sugar brings to cookies, cakes and blondies—more complex and less cloying. (Note that in recipes requiring a cup or more of sugar, more butter or other fat needs to be added to compensate for the lower moisture compared to brown sugar.)

  • See all the different types of sugar in our Sugar Glossary.
  • Buy Demerara sugar online. Consider giving bags of it as stocking stuffers to friends who love to bake (or who consume a lot of sugar in their coffee and cereal).
  • Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Honey Drink

    Good to the last drop. Photo courtesy
    Savannah Bee Company.


    When there’s just a bit of honey left in the jar, don’t toss it out: Make a honey julep.

    Fill the honey jar halfway with hot water, screw the cap on and shake until the honey is dissolved. Pour the “honey water” over ice, add liberal amounts of fresh-squeezed lime juice and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

    If you prefer a hot drink, hold the ice.

    If you don’t have a fresh lime, make a lemon honey drink.

    This tip comes from Savannah Bee Company, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.

  • History Of Honey: It’s 40 million years old!
  • Types Of Honey
  • Storing & Using Honey
  • Pairing Food & Honey
  • Organic Honey
  • Honey Facts
  • Honey Trivia Quiz
  • Comments

    ISSUE: Bee-Ware Of Dishonest Honey

    Do you care if your honey is “honest honey”—ethically sourced? Then read the labels.

    Last year, the U.S. produced only about 144 million pounds of the 382 million pounds of honey consumed. The remainder was imported from Argentina, Brazil, Canada and other countries.

    And it’s the “other countries” wherein the problem lies—specifically, Asian imports.

    Two years ago, the U.S. imposed a 500% tariff on honey from China because the Chinese government subsidizes Chinese honey makers, with the goal of driving U.S. producers out of the market. The practice nearly ruined the market for domestic honey.

    To get around the tariff, China has been using labels such as “Product of Thailand” or “Product of Indonesia” on 100% Chinese honey, rerouting its products through other countries and/or mixing tiny amounts of Thai or Indonesian honey into Chinese honey. This is neither ethical nor legal. And it’s certainly not sweet.


    Only buy “honest honey.” Photo courtesy
    National Honey Board.

    So keep your eyes open, read labels and strike a blow for justice by buying “honest honey.”

    Learn more at

    Find the sweet side of honey in THE NIBBLE’s Honey Section: product reviews, recipes, food and honey pairings and articles all about honey.


    RECIPE/PRODUCT: Black Eyed Peas Cocktail & Black Sugar

    To celebrate the new Black Eyed Peas E.N.D. tour, Bacardi, official spirit of the tour, has created a commemorative cocktail.

    It may not be the easiest thing to make because of the need to find black sugar; but if you’re a Black Eyed Peas fan, as we are, it’s worth the effort.



    – 2 parts Bacardi Superior rum
    – 1 part freshly squeezed lime juice
    – 2 teaspoons black sugar
    – Cubed and crushed ice
    – Garnish: 4 black-eyed peas on a skewer, lime slice


    1. Place all ingredients into a shaker and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
    2. Fill shaker with half cubed ice and half crushed ice. Shake vigorously until chilled.
    3. Double strain into a chilled or frozen coupette glass or a martini glass.



    Join the Black Eye Peas in a V.I.Pea
    Cocktail. Photo courtesy Baccardi.

    About Black Sugar

    Black sugar, an unprocessed (raw) sugar made from pure sugar cane juice, is a common ingredient in Asian cooking. It is almost black in color.

    Like other unrefined sugars (turbinado, for example), it is healthier and has more flavor than processed white sugar. The nutrition and flavor come from the molasses, calcium, iron, potassium and other minerals that are components of unrefined sugar. Compare it to other raw sugars, such as demerara, muscovado and turbinado sugar (see our Sugar Glossary for all types of sugar).

    In Japan and Taiwan, lumps of black sugar are eaten as candy (as well as made into various hard and soft candies). If you’re in a restaurant that serves lumps of turbinado sugar with coffee, chew on one and you’ll get the idea. Black sugar and fresh ginger are made into a popular addition to ginger tea.

    The finest black sugar is produced in Okinawa, Japan, although Taiwan and China also make it. Look for black sugar in Asian markets.


    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Java & Co. Artisan Coffee Syrups

    Cup of coffee and a coffee plunger

    Coffee: neat, pressed and hungry for a shot
    (of Java & Co. syrup, that is). Photo ©
    Elina Manninen |


    Millions of people in America walk into their favorite coffee emporium and order their java with a shot of syrup. Amaretto, caramel, hazelnut and vanilla are very popular, and it’s high season for egg nog, gingerbread and pumpkin (how did you think those pumpkin lattes are made)? Most coffee houses use Monin (which makes 113 flavors, not all meant for coffee) or Torani (78 flavors, ditto), and you can purchase bottles for home use. But if you’d like to give a gift of something special—small-batch, artisan-made syrups made from roasted coffee beans, including a “decaf”—Java & Co. has a good thing going.

    The infused syrups that have so captivated coffee-drinkers are essentially flavored simple syrup (sugar syrup). They have gained visibility with the renaissance of coffee houses, but have been used for many years to make Italian sodas, as breakfast syrups and dessert syrups, and in recipes from glazes to baking. They can make almost any food taste better—but sugar has a way of doing that.

    Java & Co.’s handmade and hand-bottled syrups—they’re made and shipped to order for maximum freshness—taste that much better than the mass-manufactured products from Monin and Torani. They begin with actual coffee beans, and are a delightful personal gift, corporate gift and sweet syrup for your own pantry.

  • Read the full review and discover the many ways to use flavored syrups. They can start with coffee—but end up in vinaigrettes, parfaits, cocktails and can even glaze your Thanksgiving turkey and yams.
  • Discover more of our favorite artisan honeys, sugars and syrups.
  • Comments

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