Friends. The Polly Fox tries hard to maintain a certain level of accountability when it comes to the food we make and serve for all of you. We want to provide you guys with some pretty awesome products that you can feel good about putting into your body. That’s why we use quality sweeteners in our treats - none of the overly-processed, refined stuff.
So what do we endorse when it comes to sugar alternatives? Here’s our Bliss List:
Pure Maple Syrup
One of the greats. This stuff has a rich, caramelized sweet taste that is second to none. Its harvest time dictates its flavour: Blonde is harvested first in the Spring, and is light and sweet; Copper is the mid-tone, boasting a perfectly balanced flavour and silky texture; and lastly, Amber is the late harvest, the deepest and darkest.
Because pure maple syrup is not processed, it retains its higher levels of beneficial minerals, including calcium, potassium, sodium and copper. What’s not to love?
From sweet to savoury applications, this guy is so supremely versatile. Maple-brined fried chicken, butter tarts or a heavy dousing on breakfast foods, you really can’t go wrong.
To replace dry sugars with maple syrup, a good rule of thumb is to use 2/3 of a cup maple syrup for every cup of dry sugar, and decrease the liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup. We do also recommend reducing your oven temperature by 25 degrees, as maple syrup caramelizes at a lower temperature.
Side note: be wary of the Aunt Jemima types - these guys are most definitely not pure maple syrup, and are instead comprised of artificial flavourings, high fructose corn syrup and a myriad of chemicals to emulate the flavour of maple syrup.
In Abbotsford, there is zero shortage of local honey, and you can be sure that we take advantage of that. Choosing local ensures that your product is not over-processed and retains its health benefits; some big manufacturers opt to use corn syrup as a filler and extender.
Being that it is not vegan, we are careful with the recipes we choose to showcase it in - and tend to keep it seasonal. If you’re all about the big V, you’ll want to choose an alternative liquid sweetener, instead.
Like maple syrup, this little sweetie’s raw properties include minerals, enzymes, vitamins and amino acids, that have a ton of healing power. Something even more special? Its antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidants make it a big choice for natural skin care products, cough syrups, allergy relief and wound healing. There is a ton of information out there for DIY products, all using honey.
Use the same guidelines as maple syrup to replace dry sugars with honey. Do keep in mind that honey is super sweet, so a little can go a long way. We love it drizzled on vanilla ice cream, slathered on baked brie and tossed on toasted walnuts, with a little sprinkle of sea salt flakes.
Or, try something new: infuse it! Lavender, vanilla, chamomile, citrus…the options are honestly endless.
Organic Cane Sugar
Cane sugar is the unrefined version of the very processed white stuff most are familiar with. (And white sugar can actually be sourced from sugar beets, instead of the sugar cane). The organic version that we use is made from fresh sugar cane, squeezed of it’s liquid, evaporated and crystallized, making it possible for us to bake with granulated sugar while feeling confident about it’s quality. No chemicals or animal by-products are used to decolorize our sugar, making it ideal for vegan products.
White sugar is refined through a multi-step process using different chemicals - including sulfur dioxide, phosphoric acid and calcium hydroxide - that also ultimately remove any natural flavours of the sugar cane. Those beautiful caramel and molasses undertones disappear.
Cane sugar has some great relatives, as well:
- Turbinado is a golden-coloured raw cane sugar, with large sparkling crystals and distinct warm smell. It really is the go-to for the best finishing sugar, leaving behind a crunchy texture on cookies, muffins and crumbles.
- Muscovado is another cane sugar, similar in texture to brown sugar, with a strong molasses flavour. It comes in different strengths, and is oh-so good in barbecue sauces and marinades. For those sweet uses, try it in cookies for that great chew, and in toffee sauces for a distinct depth of flavour.
- Sucanat is truly an unrefined cane sugar. It can a higher proportion of naturally-occurring molasses than other types of cane sugar, leaving it with an intense—and sometimes burnt taste—that can be overpowering in lighter baking recipes. Instead, try it in spice cakes and ginger cookies. (Perfect timing with Fall right around the corner!)
- Demerara has a fairly large texture and a pale amber colour. Its toffee flavour makes in an easy replacement for brown sugar. Caramel sauces can be difficult if you work off of the change in colour—we recommend using a candy thermometer for this guy.
Use cane sugar as you would your white sugar—the switch to better couldn’t be easier. Cane sugar makes for incredible caramel sauces, bakes up supremely and finishes off those flakey pastries with a crystallized sparkle.
Coconut sugar is derived of coconuts—and is way less processed than other conventional types of sugar. The coconut blossoms of the palm tree are what provide the sweet sap that is lightly processed to produce a syrupy substance. It's then dried and crushed to become what we know as coconut sugar.
Side note: it is lower on the glycemic index than conventional sugar, making it a better choice for diabetics. As an added bonus, it also contains raw enzymes that are beneficial to digestive health, which may contribute to a better immune system, as well as trace amounts of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
Fun fact: coconut sugar contains close to 400 times more potassium than regular table sugar. Yas!
The Other Guys
So, what do we avoid? Essentially, anything that sounds like a chemical or is a highly refined version of cane sugar. ‘Sugar-free’ sweeteners such as Xylitol, Stevia and Splenda may have a place in some special diets, but we avoid them based on their heavily processed manufacturing and an inability to replicate other sweeteners in baking.
We can’t wait to see you soon, friends!
The Polly Fox