Reducing Sugar in Recipes

With all the bad press that sugar is receiving lately, it’s becoming good practice to at least try to lower your sugar intake. Since sugar is addicting, the more you have the more you want. A good way to assist in the process of lowering sugar intake is to lower your sweetness tolerance level. One way to gradually accomplish this is by decreasing the amount of sugar that you use in recipes at home. Another way to do this is to be more selective by watching nutrition labels, which have begun to start listing both natural sugars and added sugars in a product, and your diet.

This article will mainly discuss the first option of reducing sugar in recipes at home. So, before just cutting out the sugar ingredient from a recipe, there are a few things of which you should beware.

reducing sugar

Reducing Sugar in Recipes

Sugar does make the recipe sweet, but it also aids a recipe in many other ways.
Sugar helps with the incorporation of air into a batter, it helps with the resulting coloring of the product, it softens the texture of most recipes since it attracts moisture (preventing a crumbly result) and it prolongs shelf life. Sugar is also similar to salt in that it brings out the flavor in recipes… there is less overall taste with too little sugar and the one taste of straight sugar when there is too much sugar.

So, our advice on reducing sugar in a recipe is to start slowly and work your way down.
Start with decreasing the sugar called for by 1/4, then next time try reducing it by 1/3. In general, there’s not a huge difference in any of the characteristics when doing this to recipes like cakes and cookies (we’re not talking about frostings and syrups where the main ingredient is sugar).

Reducing sugar content below 1/2 of the amount called for is not generally advised.
Many recipes are able to handle half the amount of sugar, but most tend to start falling apart when the sugar ingredient is reduced to less than half of the recommended amount. If substituting the sugar with something else, that’s another story that we discuss in the “additional info” section below.

Of course, reducing sugar depends upon which recipe you are starting with and your current taste for sweetness.
One result of reducing sugar in your diet, is that your tolerance for sugar will also reduce and you will begin to dislike super sweet things. That being said, most American recipes tend to be sweeter than those of other countries and can better accept the reduction in sugar.

Note: Don’t try reducing the sugar ingredient when making ice cream or sorbet, it probably won’t come out recognizable.

Reducing Sugar in Recipes

Additional Info

Here’s a condensed journal of a family who went “sugar free for a year” (I put it in quotes because it’s a difficult thing to do and you will find that they had some big exceptions), their findings are inspiring and pretty universal of the effects that can be realized when reducing sugar intake.

There are several other ways to reduce the sugar intake in your diet, besides just cutting back on the sugar ingredient when baking.
Here are some suggestions to cut sugar intake on a daily basis:

  • Instead of adding sugar to top hot and cold cereals, cut up some fresh fruit.
  • Pass on a sugary drink and opt for water instead.
    If you don’t like water, try adding a squeeze of fruit or a fresh herb.
  • Try using cut fresh fruit as dessert.
  • As always, read labels on processed foods.
    After doing so, you may skip the item you’re considering altogether.
  • Switch up condiments.
    Things like ketchup and BBQ sauce actually have quite a bit of sugar, so try things like mustard, hummus and salsa instead.

  • What about sugar substitutes? Well, we always prefer natural to artificial and that goes for sweeteners as well. We believe that better substitutes for sugar include honey, maple syrup, unsweetened applesauce and fresh fruits.

    To find out how long other foods are good for, please visit the Dairy, Drinks, Fruits, Grains, Proteins, Vegetables and Other sections of Eat By Date or use the search function below.

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