As candy, chocolate and confectionary manufacturers are encouraged to join the healthy, environmentally conscious new future; the focus has started to shift over to potential sugar substitutes of the future.
As a nation, Britain consumes more sugar than anybody else in Europe, and relatively only slightly less than America. It’s acknowledged that we need to drastically reduce our sugar intake in order to tackle some of the health issues facing the population, but the question is how to achieve that when we know that the British love sweets and chocolate so much?
The solution, it would seem, would be to find suitable substitutes for the sugar content that most scientists and nutritionist agree make us fatter.
Of course, anything in moderation is unlikely to have a radical effect on our bodies, but the problem arises when we’ve got so many outrageously tasty snacks on offer. It just means it’s quite hard to resist.
The sugar tax imposed recently has driven research and innovation into the subject, and we’re already seeing some pretty important break-throughs even now, with technological advances and higher demand driving the price down for these kinds of substitutes, so here’s a look at the ingredients of the future.
It has to be said, of course, that those on plant based diets have been using a lot of this for some time and many of the large manufacturers and researchers are, in fact, taking their inspiration from these Vegan diets.
One substitute that companies are getting excited over is Birch Sugar. Essentially it’s a natural extract from some vegetables such as cauliflower, berries and plums but it’s able to be produced to industrial levels which makes it a more suitable replacement for sugar than most.
One issue that many of these substitutes face is that they’re resource heavy and there’s a struggle to be able to produce them at a reasonably acceptable scale, but it seems that Birch Sugar may be different.
At the moment it’s mainly produced from corn cobs which means that it’s more cost effective to produce, but consumer research has shown that most can’t tell the difference from real sugar, and it also has 40% fewer calories than sugar. It also doesn’t raise your blood sugar level after consumption and has the same sweetness as regular sugar.
Those pesky Vegans may get on people’s nerves from time to time but they’re pretty fantastic at finding healthy substitutes and replacements for the unhealthy parts of our favourite foods.
One thing they’ve found is a fantastic replacement for gelatine is Carrageenan, which whilst it might sound quite medical and complicated, is simply a type of dried seaweed extract.
I must admit that it blows my mind a little to consider just how easy it is to make a good tasting, sustainable replacement for this with just seaweed, and one that is scalable enough for big manufacturers to use in place of an animal product that isn’t good for us.
It’s also known as Irish Moss, and is quite widely used in Vegan products and is becoming more mainstream as the demand for healthier, more sustainable and environmentally friendly foods increases.
It’s super versatile too and isn’t just used in candy, chocolates and sweets, it’s also used to thicken things like soups and cakes too. It’s typically sold as a powder so if you’re going to use it at home you need to use it with cool liquid first to make it useable before heating. You can then add it to the other ingredients in your recipe to thicken it up, and a good example of its use is in jellies to help them set.
The future, it seems, very much belongs to plant based solutions to unhealthy and environmentally unsustainable products. Viva the Vegan revolution in candy, apparently.