And when I say digestive upset, I don’t mean a little twinge here and there. Be warned, excessive ingestion of products like maltitol, for some people can cause a Category 4 Hurricane reaction in your guts. Enough said. Not my ideal weight loss method.
Here’s my story. As a recovering candy addict, one night, while watching a rather dark and sombre moment on The Wire. I think it was The Wire, and I think someone was getting shot, dying of an overdose, or all of the above. I stumbled onto the idea that Haribo may make Sugar Free Gummy Bears. In my excitement, as a gummy bear lover, and Haribo, being the maker of the best gummy bear, I had to know more.
That’s when I clicked on the article on buzzfeed called “Sugarless Haribo Gummy Bear Reviews On Amazon Are The Most Insane Thing You’ll Read Today”. As soon as I started reading it, almost rolling on the floor laughter ensued, and equally, began the glances from my beloved, inquiring if I had finally completely lost it.
Anyone wanting to acquaint themselves more with what can happen when one eats these sugar-free treats, you can read the entirety of the reviews for Haribo Sugar Free Gummy Bears on Amazon. If it’s not you suffering from said gummy bear overdose, it’s outrageously funny. I do advise not reading them while watching something dark with your partner though. He or she may question your sanity with all your inappropriate laughter and regaling while someone is getting murdered on the screen.
I digress. Apologies. Back to erythritol. Yes, it can affect some people. Some erythritol is sourced from fruit and some from corn, if you have a corn sensitivity (that might be everyone, so shall we say a particular sensitivity), than you may be sensitive to certain brands.
That said, erythritol when it comes to taste does do a remarkable job. There is a cooling sensation but it does not have the aftertaste that Stevia has. There are times that I feel the sweetness of erythritol doesn’t have the full character of the taste of sugar—it’s just sweet. I think for that reason, if you add too much it can come off as too sweet. I find this as well with Stevia, but not as pronounced. Monk fruit is similar to erythritol in this regard.
That said, erythritol can be a key ingredient to give you a scrumptious dessert that will not kick you out of ketosis, or raise your sugars if you are diabetic. It also is a benefit to oral health in a number of ways because primarily, it does not contribute to cavity formation. So one could say, when you spend on your erythritol, you may save at the dentist?
Erythritol falls into the gray area, and the Paleo community is divided on whether it’s truly Paleo or not. Those very strict Paleo followers may not use it, but those Paleo followers may not be wholly low carb as well as being Paleo. I see it as an ingredient in Paleo friendly foods and is often advertised as such when sold on its own. It is a common sweetener for many paleo and keto recipes.
Who’s kidding who, using Keto sweeteners are not cheap. So an advantage to erythritol is that it may be less expensive and available in larger quantities than other options. You can also be thrifty and create variations of it yourself. For instance, making your own Icing Sugar (also called Powdered sugar or Confectioners’ sugar) or brown sugar.
You can find 100% pure erythritol at the store. There are also certain brands that combine erythritol with other ingredients, such as monk fruit, like Lakanto Classic, or Swerve Granular, which uses inulin to round out taste and lessen crystallization.
Just make sure the erythritol combination doesn’t contain other additives that can spike your carb count and affect blood sugar. If you are buying a combination sweetener such as erythritol and monk fruit, or brands such as Swerve Granular, check the ratio of the combination. Some would be 1:1 with sugar, others may be less or more. Lakanto’s powdered sugar is actually 2:1 with regular icing sugar so you need less of it in your recipes.
To note, recipes on my site would all be adjusted for this 1.3 to 1 ratio for keto sweeteners like erythritol or allulose unless otherwise stated. So, if you are using a combination sweetener that is 1 to 1, you would want to adjust the recipe accordingly.
In most situations, as a keto sweetener, baking with erythritol shines, as it is similar to baking with sugar. You can mix it with dry ingredients or cream butter with it.
However, there are several main differences when baking with erythritol instead of sugar:
Erythritol does not dissolve quite as well as sugar. It’s still possible, just a little more difficult. For any uses where a smooth texture is important, you can use a powdered (or confectioners) version instead for a good end result or grind the granulated Erythritol yourself into a powder using a nut grinder.
As I mentioned, Erythritol can cause a cooling sensation, similar to mint. This is the only type of aftertaste that it might have, and is more prevalent when using large quantities. Usually it’s not a problem unless you try to make something extremely sweet with it. Additionally, this is more likely to be noticeable with recipes that include less fat, so a syrup, jam, or chutney.
Erythritol does not caramelize. Depending on what you are trying to make, you would need to find an alternate way to achieve the same result.
Erythritol will crystallize. Again, this only tends to happen when using a lot of it. It might also happen over time if you store leftovers of something, especially in sauces, frostings, etc. Using the powdered form can help reduce this phenomenon. That said, if I’m making ice cream or anything that requires storage for longer period in the fridge, I may not use it, or use a combination of erythritol with other sweeteners.
The crystallization is because erythritol does not attract moisture, meaning it’s hydroscopic. So when making recipes that require a moist texture that depends on the sweetener to contribute to the moisture, for instance cakes, you need to use a blend of erythritol and another sweetener to ensure it doesn’t seem dry. That said, in a cheesecake, you’d hardly notice.
Do I use erythritol in meringue? Yes, but not alone. It is hydroscopic, so alone, meringues could be less chewy and, perish the thought, weep. That said, using it in combination with other keto sweeteners, you can achieve stunning meringue that I will be posting recipes for shortly.
Last, erythritol makes an excellent bulking agent for low-carb keto baked goods. So overall, in my opinion it remains a top contender as one of my top sugar substitutes in baking.
Thanks for reading!
1. Erythritol as sweetener—where from and whereto? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5756564/
2. Keto sweeteners – the best and the worst. https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/keto/sweeteners
Yup, that’s me with my eyes closed while my hubby takes the picture. Totally me. I’m in my happy place doing one of my favourite things: on a hike in the Cape Breton Highlands.
I started my low-carb journey three years ago, for health reasons, determined to make a Low Carb, High Fat, Keto diet work for me as a lifestyle, without the exercise in deprivation with constant calls to the fun police.
I thought, as someone with a severe peanut/tree nut allergy, I am already a pro at adapting recipes to my nut-free existence, so adapting Keto to also be nut-free is something I can master. Truly, I love both the experimentation and the glee when I hit upon something fabulous and all with no sugar! It’s here where the idea was born for lafemmenikketo.com. I feel like a superhero baker and cook with a whisk in hand, whipping the carbs gone to make fabulous nut-free treats without the sugar. This, to me, is simply joyous. I hope you think so too!