Replacing Nutritive Sweeteners for Stevia Extract in Cooking

San Antonio TX. The Global Stevia Institute (GSI) says that the high-purity stevia leaf extract is an intense sweetener that can be up to 350 times sweeter than sugar. However, says the GSI, it does not provide bulk or other functional benefits that nutritive sweeteners like sugar provide in foods and beverages. This might be a challenge when you replace a nutritive sweetener for steviaextract in a recipe, in order to reduce calories; in some cases the total replacement or substitution might not be feasible. For example, sugar controls the formation of ice crystals in frozen desserts and improves the smoothness and flavor of ice cream, prevents spoilage in jellies and preserves, speeds the growth of yeast in breads (which contributes to fluffiness), and promotes browning during baking and cooking. Therefore, replacing sugar with stevia extract in some recipes may require additional modification to the recipes. However, there is still the option to blend the stevia extract with a nutritive sweetener like sugar to simultaneously reduce calories while maintaining the functional and taste benefits.

The GSI says that this was demonstrated in a study done in India where Kulfi (a popular Indian dessert) was produced with 50, 60 and 70% of the sugar replaced by 0.05, 0.06 and 0.07% refined stevia extract powder respectively. At higher levels of sugar replacement there was a significant decrease in specific gravity, melting rate, carbohydrate percentage and total calorie content and a significant increase in freezing point, hardness and fat, protein, ash and moisture percentage. Through experimentation, it was discovered that Kulfi prepared by replacing half the sugar content with stevia extract was found to be on par with the full sugar control. Reductions greater than 50% sugar replacement resulted in bitterness, lack of brownish appearance and presence of icy texture. Sometimes to help offset the functional results of removing up to half of the sugar, product developers will choose to include various bulking agents which can vary from polyols to complex carbohydrates that provide fiber. This suggests there is an ideal range of sugar reduction from a sensory and food science perspective and that sugar-stevia extract blends are often ideal in formulation strategies for sweetened foods and beverages.

The GSI says that food scientists continue to explore ways to use stevia-based sweeteners. Proposed uses for stevia extract include soft drinks, teas, jellies and jams, ice cream, yogurts and other dairy products, cakes and desserts, confections, and alcoholic beverages.

The GSI recommends to start with stevia extract recipes that are already developed and once you feel a little more comfortable and confident when using stevia extract in your kitchen you can try some of your own recipes.

For equivalences between sugar and stevia extract regarding sweetness, you can see the equivalence table in our website: http://www.svetia.us/our-family-of-products/stevia-conversion-chart/

Look for our stevia extract recipes in: http://www.svetia.us/recipes/

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SVETIA® Calorie – Free Sweetener is made with cane sugar and stevia extract. One packet of SVETIA® contains only one gram of carbohydrates. People with diabetes are advised to check with their registered dietitian or physician.

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