Saturday, May 7, 2011

Syrups-The Good, The Bad, The Disgusting

Do you ever wonder what exactly you are pouring on top of your pancakes?

Chances are if you knew, you wouldn't eat it. You might even gag. Almost all pancake syrups on the grocery store shelf contain high fructose corn syrup. I'm sure you have seen all the advertisements on t.v. stating "Rather it's cane sugar or corn sugar, sugar is sugar." I can tell you from personal experience corn sugar and cane sugar are NOT the same.

To make a long story short, 3 years ago I thought I was going to have my gallbladder out but a bunch of tests and various doctors and specialist visits, I was finally told that chemically altered food was causing liver failure. Although nobody has been able to explain why my liver, the organ with NO NERVES, was generating so much pain.

I am human and I show moments of weakness, I stuff my face with junk that I shouldn't from time to time. Then I pay for it. I spend the next 24-48 hours with sharp, stabbing pains in my side. It is SO NOT worth it.

But I digress from my topic.

The average store shelves are stocked with a massive amounts of syrup. Pure Maple, Butter Flavored, Maple Flavored, Lite, Sugar Free, and a variety of fruit flavors. You're faced with a lot of choices. So what do you pick?

Pure Maple is obviously the most natural choice. It has 1 ingredient. Maple syrup. It also has the highest price tag. In this economy it isn't a practical buy. There are never coupons, it's rarely on sale, and it comes in rather small bottles.

Then there are the most popular brands. Log Cabin, Eggo, Hungry Jack, Aunt Jemima...the list goes on and on. They come in "original", "butter", "lite", and "sugar free". Login Cabin, according to their website, has changed it's formula to remove the high fructose corn syrup, however upon inspection of the ingredients, the first one is still corn syrup. The first ingredient in Eggo syrup is high fructose corn syrup. The first in Hungry Jack, and Aunt Jemima is corn syrup, then comes the high fructose corn syrup.  These taste acceptable and most importantly they are cheap. If you get the store brand, it is even cheaper. However, what are you putting into your body?

High fructose corn syrup is made from corn. That sounds safe right? Corn is a yummy vegetable, what could possibly be wrong with that? A LOT. Thats whats wrong with it. Factories start with corn, then the process includes the use of caustic soda, hydrochloric acid (the stuff in high school chemistry class that would eat through your skin if you got the tiniest drop on you), calcium chloride (a type of salt used to melt ice and found in fabric softeners), caustic soda, and other chemicals. If that doesn't sound disgusting enough, caustic soda and hydrochloric acid are also known to contain mercury. All those chemicals are used to break down the kernels of corn to release the starch that is then processed even further to make the syrup.

Then you have syrups made with a cane sugar base. These are better health-wise for your body. A can sugar syrup base is made by taking sugar and water, cooking it until is browns and then adding more water and flavoring. However these do not have the traditional "pancake syrup" flavor. Alaga is the only cane syrup that comes to mind in this category. It is made with corn syrup (at least not high fructose), cane syrup, water, and potassium sorbate. It, however, has a mild molasses-like flavor.

Cane sugar is the sugar you get in the 5lb bags at the store. You simply call it sugar. Sugar is made by taking Sugar Cane (a plant), cutting it down, smashing it with rollers to extract the juice, allowing the water in that juice to evaporate with the aid of a compound called slaked lime, and boiling the remaining substance to remove additional liquid so that the conditions are right for crystals to grow. There is also limited waste because the by-product of sugar creation is molasses, which we use in baking. The remaining parts of the sugar cane stalks is burned by the plant to create the energy and heat used in the evaporation process. The CO2 created from burning is absorbed by the growing of new sugar cane.

Now that you know the process, which would you rather be in your syrup? I believe I prefer sugar based syrup, however there are very limited number of them on the market. My ultimate decision, I will be making a lot of my own syrups from real sugar, fruits, real fruit juices, and water. Look forward to a lot of new recipes!

No comments :

Post a Comment