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20 Sweeteners You Can Grow-Produce

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Explore this article for an in-depth guide on 20 sweeteners that you can grow or make at home, offering a natural alternative for your culinary needs.

Let’s face it—the food supply chain is, at best, unreliable. The stores of food we have prepped or stored will inevitably run out. It’s crucial to start developing a food production system now, ensuring you have a reliable plan for future needs.

Most of us depend on some form of sweetener, yet when it comes to gardening or food production, few of us consider the possibility of creating our sweeteners. Relying solely on store-bought options is risky, fostering total dependency on external sources for essential family needs.

20-sweeteners-you-can-grow-or-produce

Can You Grow Your Own Sweetener? 

Currently, we produce more than 50% of our sweeteners and could be completely self-sufficient in a survival scenario. We would simply need to adapt our recipes to utilize available substitutes.

No matter the size of your land, there are numerous ways to produce your sweeteners. This article will open your eyes to the diverse methods available for making your sweetener and challenge the conventional reliance on just a few major sources. 

Why limit ourselves when there are so many accessible options?

1- Agave for A Natural Sweetener

Agave syrup and sugar come from the agave plant. Agave is also known for its use in making tequila. The agave plant is native to Mexico but can be grown in other parts of the world. 

To make agave syrup or sugar, the fluid is extracted from the plant, filtered, and cooked to break down into fructose. Much like maple syrup is made. 

Agave thrives best in planting zones 8-9 but can be grown in zones as low as five. 

agave for a sweetener you can grow

2- Barley Malt Syrup

Barley Malt syrup is made out of barley grain. Typically used in making beer and whisky; barley malt syrup is sweet and delicious.

You only need a few ingredients to make barley malt syrup and no special tools. In addition to being good, the syrup has many health benefits such as being high in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 

3- Birch Syrup

Although maple is by far the most popular tree to tap for sap to make syrup, several other trees produce a sweet sap, such as birch.

You can tap 8” in diameter birch trees but 10” is ideal. Once you’ve collected the sap, you filter it, boil it down for syrup or continue to boil it until you have sugar. 

4- Brown Rice Syrup

You can make Brown Rice Syrup by cooking the rice and exposing the enzymes. 

The enzymes break down and turn the starches into sugars. You cook the liquid down to make the brown rice syrup. You’ll only need two ingredients and water, no sugar added. It contains no fructose, or gluten, and has low levels of glucose.  

5- Carob Substitute for Chocolate

Carob is much like cocoa but without the caffeine. Carob powder, also called carob flour, is a cocoa powder alternative. It’s made from dried, roasted carob tree pods and looks a lot like cocoa powder.

Carob trees may be grown in USDA zones 9-11. Be patient as carob trees grow slowly at first but begin to bear in the sixth year of planting, and may remain productive for 80 to 100 years.

You can use carob in place of cocoa when making desserts or ‘chocolate’ drinks.  

6- Coconut Sugar As A Sugar Alternative

Coconut palm sugar has a low glycemic index, however, much like cane sugar it still contains calories and carbs.

One might think coconut sugar comes from the flesh but it actually comes from the tree’s flower bud stem. The sap is boiled with water to produce a syrup, then dehydrated to produce coconut sugar. 

You can produce your own coconut sugar if you live in a climate that supports the growth of coconut trees. They grow well in plant zone hardiness 10 and above. 

7- Date Palms For A Natural Sweetener

Date Palms are the sweet fruit from the date palm tree. They grow in hardiness zones 8-11. You can eat the dates just as they are, or dehydrate them and grind them into a powder for date palm sugar. 

When we lived in South Carolina, I was working on a house that had several of these palm trees growing in their yard. I would place my extension ladder right next to  them and munch on the sweet fruit as I worked. They are so naturally sweet and delicious,and one of nature’s finest.  

8- Fruit Powder is a Sweetener That’s Easy To Grow

Fruit powder is a sweetener that anyone can make. All you need is freeze-dried or very dehydrated fruit and a blender. Depending on the type of fruit you use will determine the sweetness of the powder. 

We’ve done this with apples for ‘apple sugar’ and it was superb. Some fruits are a little on the bitter side such as raspberry, and even strawberry powder. While others, like bananas and apples, are very sweet. 

Moisture is your enemy when making fruit powder sugar, so try to make it when humidity isn’t an issue. 

Our friends at The Purposeful Pantry share DIY instructions on how to make your own fruit powders (sugars).

Fruit powder sweetener - a sugar alternative you can grow

9- Honey Is A Healthy Natural Sweetener

Honey, is the world’s perfect food. Never goes bad and is so beneficial. Unlike the previous sweeteners I’ve mentioned, this is a sweetener you harvest vs. one you make. 

Once you have a few established honey bee colonies, you can harvest around 30-50 pounds of honey per hive, per year. 

Since honey doesn’t have an expiration date, this is a sweetener you can harvest and store for many years. 

Raising honey bees is rewarding in so many ways, in addition to honey, the pollination they provide helps our gardens thrive!

Are you interested in raising bees? We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have. Drop a comment below and start with Beekeeping For Beginners.

10- Licorice Root As A Sugar Alternative

Glycyrrhizin is a natural sweetener that is extracted from licorice root. It is about 50 times as sweet as sugar and has a zero glycemic index.

Due to its strong licorice flavor, it is not used as a stand-alone sweetener, but rather used as an ingredient in recipes. 

11- Molasses

Molasses is the byproduct of making sugar from sugar beets, or sugar cane. You can make molasses by boiling sugar beets in water.

After the beets are cooked and tender, remove the sugar beets from the water and continue to simmer the water until it becomes a thick syrup (molasses). 

molasses as a sweetener you can produce

12- Monk Fruit

Monk fruit is in the same family as gourds, pumpkins, and melons. It is grown in the subtropical mountainous regions.

It is used as a sugar substitute, it doesn’t affect blood sugar levels and has little calories. Unlike other sugar substitutes, monk fruit has little to no aftertaste. 

You can make monk fruit sugar by crushing the fruit to release the juices. Mix the juices with hot water to infuse. Filter and then dehydrate the liquid to create monk fruit sugar.  

13- Tree Sap Sugar

As I mentioned earlier, several trees can be tapped for their sweet sap, and then use the sap to make syrup and sugar. Of all the sap trees, maple is by far the most popular. 

Sap can be collected from maple trees that are over 10” in diameter. The sap begins to run when the days are above 40° but the nights are below freezing. 

Once you collect the sap, you then boil it down to make syrup, or continue to boil it down to make maple sugar. 

Some friends of ours have a farm in Wisconsin and we order maple sugar from them every year. It is a labor-intensive process but worth the sweet rewards. 

From Souly Rested, 32 Trees You Can Tap for Syrup

tap trees for your own syrup and sweetener you can grow

14- Grow Sugar Beets For Syrup or Sugar

Sugar Beets account for about 20% of the sugar production, and sugar cane is the other 80% of the sugar crops that are commercially produced.

They grow in plant hardiness zones 3-10 and prefer a soil PH of 6.0-6.5.

Don’t confuse sugar beets with red beets. Red beets contain about 5% sugar and sugar beets contain about 15% sugar. 

15-Sugar Cane

Sugar cane is the most cultivated sugar crop in the world, accounting for 80% of the sugar production. 

Sugar Cane grows year-round in plant hardiness zones 9-10 but can grow in colder regions. We were able to successfully grow sugar cane in zone 8. It grows much like bamboo and sorghum. 

Sugar cane is sweet to chew on in its raw form, or you can process it to make powdered sugar. 

tap trees for your own syrup and sweetener you can grow

16- Sugar Pine Sweetener

Sugar Pine Trees are some of the largest trees in the United States, and the biggest of the pine trees. They grow in elevations of 2,300-9,200 feet above sea level.  

The sugar pine sap is sweet and edible. You can harvest and process the sap just like other sap trees, such as maple and birch. 

17- Sorghum Syrup or Sugar

Sorghum grows in plant hardiness zones 2-11 but typically loves heat, especially where summer days are in the 90’s. We’ve grown it for the past two summers and found it to require very little maintenance. 

Once harvested, you put the sorghum through an extractor, boil down the liquid for syrup, or continue processing for sugar. Much like sugarcane but available in cooler climates.

18- Stevia Is An Easy Sweetener You Can Grow

Stevia is an herb that is used as a sugar substitute. You may not recognize it in its true form but stevia is green.

It’s about 200 times sweeter than table sugar, it has no carbohydrates, calories, or artificial ingredients. Stevia also doesn’t affect blood sugar levels. 

One of the benefits is you can grow stevia plant anywhere. It does well as a houseplant or as a perennial in plant hardiness zones 8, or higher. I grew stevia as an annual, in zone 7 for the past few years. 

You can use the leaves fresh off the plant, dehydrate them and blend them into a powder, or make your own stevia extract. A little bit goes a long way with this sweetener. 

how-to-grow-stevia-plant

19- Walnut Syrup

Although the walnut trees aren’t heavy sap producers like the maple trees, their flavor of black walnut syrup is surprisingly similar to a light or medium amber maple syrup, but with more butterscotch and nutty overtones.

You would tap the walnut tree just like the maple and process the sap in the same way. 

20- Yacon Syrup or Sugar Sweetener

The Yacon is a sweet tuberous root that is grown in plant hardiness zones 5-8. 

You can use a juicer to extract the juice or boil down the tuber. Once you have the juice, you continue boiling until you have a thick syrup like molasses. 

Much like maple sugar, you can continue the heating process to turn the syrup into a sugar consistency.

Which Sweeteners Will You Try to Grow?

Empowerment is an amazing thing. From something as big as generating your electricity to growing, or harvesting your sweeteners. This extensive list of sweeteners is sure to stimulate those sweet juices flowing.

Which one will you try? I know which one is on my list. I just placed an order for open-pollinated non-GMO seeds!  

20 sweeteners you can grow

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