Brown Rice Syrup Is Your Secret Weapon For Subtly Sweet Dishes

Despite the fact that there's a whole world of natural, refined, and artificial sugars out there beyond white sugar or honey, most kitchens are stocked with no more than one or two types of the basics, usually chosen based on their standing on the nutrition scale. Seldom are sugars considered for their flavor. Aren't all sugars supposed to just sweeten stuff anyway?

Sure, the primary purpose of sugar may be to add a sweet flavor to food but there's more to sugar than that. Not only do sugars and sweeteners have a faint but inherent flavor of their own, they also differ in their degrees of sweetness. Using honey over refined sugar, for example, makes baked treats more moist and a lot stronger in flavor. Corn syrup on the flip side, may be less sweet than refined sugar but its non-crystallising properties make it the sweetener of choice in candies. Similarly, brown rice syrup is an excellent sweetener to use in dishes that you don't want to taste overly sweet but which could do with the added complexity of the syrup's nutty flavor.

Known as maltose syrup, rice malt syrup, or simply rice syrup, brown rice syrup ranks pretty low on the sweetness scale, making it far less sweet than honey, agave nectar, and sugar. If you're looking for a source of sugar that will add a mild sweetness rather than the sharp, treacly flavor that comes from the likes of refined white sugar or honey, look no further — brown rice syrup may be your answer.

The all-natural syrup adds a more nuanced flavor

As the name suggests, brown rice syrup comes from its namesake grain. When cooked brown rice comes into contact with certain enzymes, the rice present in the starch breaks down into a sugary liquid which is then boiled until it becomes a rich, light brown syrup that's akin to molasses in its thickness. This brown sugar syrup is valued highly as a gluten-free, vegan, and natural sweetener that also lacks the notorious fructose, but the sweet syrup actually has little to no edge over the likes of refined sugars in terms of health. Brown rice syrup is practically 100% glucose with a glycemic index of 98 on 100 meaning, it can make your blood sugar rise quicker than most other sweeteners. 

For those who can overlook its lack of nutrients and high sugar levels, however, brown rice syrup has much to offer in terms of taste which can make it the secret arsenal in your sweet (or savory) dishes. Brown sugar syrup will not only add a more toned-down and nuanced sweetness to your food, but its roasted and earthy flavor will lend a hint of nuttiness — the same flavor profile as the grain from which it is cooked — and is quite unlike any other sugar or sweetener. This makes the rice syrup an excellent sweetener for those who like their treats somewhere between the sweet-but-not-too-sweet range and who much prefer nutty, butterscotch-like flavors shining through the sea of saccharine notes.

Brown rice syrup can be used in both sweet and savory dishes

Thanks to its mild sweetness, brown sugar syrup is a sweetener that fares well in both sweet and savory dishes, as well as in both raw and cooked preparations. The syrup can be used as any other liquid sweetener in that it can be added to anything from a cup of tea or a bowl of oatmeal to all kinds of bakes and desserts. 

Brown rice syrup can make bakes like cakes more tender, give desserts a deeper brown color, and it can be the key to ultra-dense and fudgy brownies. The rice syrup works well in any recipe that contains whole grain flours like whole wheat where the nutty flavor profiles of both the syrup and the flour work in delicious harmony.

The uses of the rich syrup don't have to end there. It can also add a roasted sweetness to cocktails without making them excessively saccharine, and a chewier texture to granola bars. Brown rice syrup can also add a subtle sweetness to savory salad dressings or be paired with rich meats and veggies in a shiny glaze. There's plenty enough reason to keep a jar of brown rice syrup in your pantry, especially if you like your sweet flavors in mild doses.