Substituting Agave Syrup for Karo Syrup in Recipes

Around this time of year I like to make homemade popcorn balls for my Dad. The syrup recipe I have always used calls for light corn syrup, (such as Karo). However recently I found an all natural sweetener called agave nectar. It's about 70% as sweet as sugar, but has a very low glycemic count, so it's much healthier. Since my Dad is diabetic, this sounds like a better/healthier option for the popcorn ball syrup.


I checked online for recipes using agave instead of Karo, and the only recipes I find call for almond butter as well. I assume this is a substitute for butter, but I'm not sure I want to have them taste like almond butter. Does anyone happen to have any experience using agave nectar in a recipe for popcorn balls successfully? I am looking to keep the end result pretty much like the ones I have been making, but healthier. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

By Donna from San Diego, CA

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Here is your situation. To make the popcorn balls the syrup has to be cooked to a certain stage usually based on temperature. It's going to concentrate the syrup to about the same amount as a corn syrup, which will decrease it's sugar content benefit, but it still probably works differently in the body, so you still get that benefit.

You need to find out how hard to make it [hard/soft ball stage criteria] which can be determined by temperature or testing in cold water. That info will be in any recipe.

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What You Need:

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup agave

1-1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup margarine (I like Earth Balance)

1 teaspoon vanilla

8 cups popcorn, popped

What You Do:

1. In a pot, mix the water, agave, sugar, and salt. Heat on low until mixture is warm. Remove from stove and stir in margarine and vanilla.

2. Place the popcorn in a large bowl. Pour the mixture over popcorn and stir until combined.

3. Roll into balls with greased hands and let cool. Serve!

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In This Article
spoon with drizzling agave syrup
Using Agave Nectar
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Food and Recipes Food Tips Healthy EatingDecember 9, 2009
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