How to Replace Sugar
When it comes two replacing sugar, unfortunately there isn’t a one size fits all solution. It’s not as easy as simply swapping out the total sugar content 1 to 1 with a sweetener. The majority of sweeteners have different properties than sugar and they produce different effects in food and beverage formulas. However, with the right products, techniques, and expertise provided by The Sweetener House, we make replacing the sugar in your formula a reality.
The first dimension to consider when replacing sugar is replicating the flavor and total sweetness provided by sucrose. Your customers want a reduced sugar product that tastes just as sweet and delicious as the sugar version. The market is trending towards natural alternatives to sugar as consumers look to get away from artificial substitutes. Due to this, the most common sweetener formulators begin to experiment with is high potency extracts.
High potency extracts such as stevia and monk fruit can be commonly more than 200 x to over 250 x sweeter than sucrose. Due to this you end up using a small quantity compared to the amount of sugar content in your formula to achieve the same total sweetness levels. One might think this is no issue, in fact you might think that using a smaller quantity of a highly concentrated sweetener extract would be a good thing. However, this leads to a critical dimension that impacts your formula, the bulk provided by sugar.
When replacing sugar with a high potency extract, the bulk is reduced. In beverage applications a reduced bulk factor typically is no issue as the formula isn’t reliant upon sugar as a ingredient to optimize total yields. In food formulas however, particularly when it comes to baking, the reduced bulk volume from sugar can be a big issue as it reduces the total yield you get from your formula. To solve this you need to considering adding a bulking agent to your formula.
There are many different bulking agents available, from dietary fibers like inulin, sugar alcohols like erythritol, to rare sugars like allulose and many more. The best bulking agents to use are natural ones. The most commonly used bulking agents are sugar alcohols such as erythritol, xylitol, and maltitol, because as their name would suggest, they have similar physical characteristics to that of sugar. These sugar alcohols are derived from various fruits and vegetables and they commonly add sweetness and texture to food and beverage formulas. Xylitol and maltitol have the same sweetness levels as sugar and similar bulking properties, making for an easy substitute. However xylitol has 2.4 calories/gram and maltitol has 2.1 calories/gram, making them not the best replacement.
Erythritol on the other hand has 0 calories/gram and it has a close physical resemblance to sugar with nice crystalline particles. Allulose is another fantastic option as a bulking agent as it is a rare sugar with a crystalline appearance and only 0.4 calories/gram. Allulose does have some restrictions on what countries it can be used as an ingredient. Allulose is not yet approved in Canada and Europe, but it is in the USA.
The Sweetener House recommends you consider erythritol as a bulking agent due to its physical structure and zero caloric value. Erythritol is not without its challenges however. On it’s own, erythritol is about 60% as sweet as sugar, meaning that to get the same total sweetness provided by sucrose, you would need to use approximately 1.35x the amount of sugar in your original formula.
The good news however is that the combination of high potency extracts such as stevia and monk fruit with a bulking agent like erythritol, can provide a natural sugar substitute mix which not only matches the total sweetness provided by sucrose, but it also replaces the bulk properties of sucrose. Though sadly, our work is not done here. Simply blending the two ingredients together won’t remove the cooling effect which comes from erythritol or the common metallic and licorice aftertastes which come form some high potency sweetener extracts like monk fruit and stevia. This then leads to the third dimension to consider when replacing sugar which is the mouth feel.
The common industry methods to combine high potency extracts with a bulking agent is through simple blending and spray dry processes. The problems with these processes is that it causes effluent by products, uneven sweetness distribution throughout the batch, clumping and hardening, and it doesn’t remove the bitter aftertastes and cooling effects of the sweetener. If using a high potency extract and bulking agent blend, you’ll have to incorporate the use of bitter blockers to remove the off-tastes and undesirable mouth feelings.
You might be wondering if there’s a better way to replace sugar and the answer is that yes there is. The best way to remove the bitter aftertastes, cooling effects, clumping, uneven sweetness distribution, and effluents is to replace with a specialty encapsulated sweetener from The Sweetener House! Encapsulation is a patented process by The Sweetener house that allows to take the high potency sweetener extracts and evenly embed them into our carrier bulking agents to create a smooth tasting, bright, full-bodied sweetener which can perfectly replace sugar 1 to 1.