When the sweet tooth calls, it's hard not to answer. But instead of reaching for a slice of chocolate cake or a sugar-bomb coffee drink, go for something more reasonable. There are plenty of healthier sweeteners available — honey, agave syrup and coconut sugar are some of our favorites — but date syrup has surpassed them all as the new "it" sweetener.
Date syrup is delicious and versatile — what more could you want? And, while the dry fruit does have a lot of sugar (about 29 grams of fructose for one cup) dates don’t affect blood sugar and weight gain in the same way processed sugars do. Plus there are other added benefits : a happier digestive system; a boost of vitamins and minerals like potassium, magnesium and fiber; and an added boost of energy.
It's no surprise that this powerful fruit is a top-notch option for a homemade sweetener. Medjool dates , the most widely-used variety, are ideal for a DIY syrup because they’re easy to soak, chop and purée without hassle. And the syrup can be stored in a mason jar or airtight container in the fridge for weeks without spoiling.
Once you have it at the ready, you can use date syrup to replace sugar on just about anything. Pour some into your morning coffee, tea or smoothie, or try drizzling it over pancakes, oatmeal and yogurt.
If you're planning to bake with date syrup, use less syrup than you would regular sugar. For a recipe that calls for 1 cup of sugar, use ⅔ cups of date syrup. But if the recipe calls for honey, maple syrup or molasses, you can swap the syrup 1:1.
Make your own homemade date syrup
Here’s what you’ll need to make about 2 cups of the sweetener:
- 1-2 teaspoon of neutral oil or lemon juice
- 1 pound dried, pitted Medjool dates
Other items you'll need:
- Measuring cups/spoons
- Jars for storage
- Food processor or blender
- Fine mesh strainer
- Chop the dates into fine pieces using kitchen shears coated with oil, or soak them in hot water for 30 minutes until mushy.
- Simmer the dates in a saucepan with water over medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool for another 30 minutes.
- Blend the mixture in a food processor or blender until smooth, then pour through a mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth to remove any pulp. Squeeze remaining liquid from cheesecloth. Syrup can be re-simmered over medium heat for 30 minutes to thicken, if needed.
- Store in jars and use it to make every day a little sweeter.