View Full Version : Agave is a fruit or a vegetable?
08-25-2005, 10:30 AM
What would you people say Agave nectar was? a fruit or a vegetable
I know it is an extract from a cactus. Now if you ate cactus leaves that would be a vegetable. But what would you classify Agave nectar as?
08-25-2005, 10:52 AM
I found this article while trying to find out. My guess is fruit
The Awesome Agave
The agave (uh-gah-vay) plant has long been cultivated in hilly, semi-arid soils of Mexico. Its fleshy leaves cover the pineapple-shaped heart of the plant, which contains a sweet sticky juice. Ancient Mexicans considered the plant to be sacred. They believed the liquid from this plant purified the body and soul. When the Spaniards arrived, they took the juices from the agave and fermented them, leading to the drink we now call tequila.
But there is a more interesting use for this historic plant. Agave syrup (or nectar) is about 90% fructose. Only recently has it come in use as a sweetener. It has a low glycemic level and is a delicious and safe alternative to table sugar. Unlike the crystalline form of fructose, which is refined primarily from corn, agave syrup is fructose in its natural form. This nectar does not contain processing chemicals. Even better, because fructose is sweeter than table sugar, less is needed in your recipes. It can be most useful for people who are diabetic, have insulin resistance (Syndrome X), or are simply watching their carbohydrate intake.
Fructose has a low glycemic value. However, according to some experts, if fructose is consumed after eating a large meal that overly raises the blood sugar or with high glycemic foods, it no longer has a low glycemic value. Strangely enough, it will take on the value of the higher glycemic food. So exercise restraint, even with this wonderful sweetener. It is a good policy to eat fructose-based desserts on an empty stomach, in between meals or with other low-glycemic foods. Use it for an occasional treat or for a light touch of sweetness in your dishes.
This sweetener is sometimes called "nectar" and sometimes called "syrup". It is the same food.
The light syrup has a more neutral flavor.
In recipes, use about 25% less of this nectar than you would use of table sugar. ¾ cup of agave nectar should equal 1 cup of table sugar. For most recipes this rule works well.
When substituting this sweetener in recipes, reduce your liquid slightly, sometimes as much as 1/3 less.
Reduce your oven temperature by 25 degrees.
Agave nectar can be combined with Splenda to counter Splenda's aftertaste and to control the amount of fructose used.
The glycemic index of agave nectar is low.
As a food exchange, a one-teaspoon serving of agave nectar equals a free food. Two servings or two teaspoons equals ½ carbohydrate exchange.
This article is copywrited by Shake Off the Sugar (Lynn Stephens).
08-25-2005, 11:58 AM
I know the National Wildlife Federation considers them both a fruit and a vegetable, as they do the prickly pear. I guess this is because some parts of the cactus are used for sweetness and some parts are used as you would use a vegetable.
I have seen it referred to in Mexican cuisine as cactus fruit. I think most consider it a fruit.
Here are some pictures so you can see what the plant looks like:
08-25-2005, 06:31 PM
I use raw agave a lot, not just on occasion. It mixes great with a raw salad dressing. I use raw olive oil, agave, apple cider vinegar and parsley flakes. VERY GOOD.
Alissa sells raw agave on her site.
08-27-2005, 08:32 PM
For a while I have suspected that agave nectar is not raw. My feeling was intensifed when our local purveyor of agave and all things raw (The Living Temple in Huntington Beach) mentioned this. Then, today, at a Raw Food Festival, I talked with a man who produces the raw ice cream which is sold at Taste of the Goddess and other places (my apologies for name dropping to the folks who don't live in Southern California). He explained that his partner actually goes and observes the agave being processed to be assured of its rawness. None so far have been truly raw. Yes, they are heated/distilled at low temperatures, but not lower than 115 degrees even though some labels state this. Creating the nectar/syrup from the leaves is a 4-part process and I am supposing that it may be true that it doesn't surpass 115 degrees during one part but does in another -- that may be how they justify the label.
I, personally, consider agave to be in the same class as Nama Shoyu. It's not actually raw, but, on occasion, I do eat something that contains it. But, it's my conscious choice to do so. I eat it and then let it go. If I were to stress about it, the guilt would undoubtedly counteract the benefit that eating raw provides!
Oh -- totally off subject: I have several agave plants in my backyard -- attempting as I am to maintain a native, drought-resistance landscape.
And -- on the actual subject: it's a vegetable since it's the leaves that the nectar is pressed from. Some cactus have fruit which is very easy to spot. When I lived in Arizona as a child, my mother made cactus jelly from the fruit of the prickly pear cactus. You can see a picture here: http://azuswebworks.com/html/ppear.htm
08-27-2005, 08:50 PM
Thanks RawTruth, that was what I was thinking. I guess I wanted someone to convince me it was a fruit. Agave is a tough one to let go of, but if it is not a fruit then I can not eat it. Anyways like you said, you honestly can't trust the label "RAW" on agave unless you personally observe it being harvested. I still have fresh dates though, so I have a sweet alternative.
On another note, I got some fresh figs today, very good. I am doing the fruitarian thing with fresh fruits only, no dried fruits. Basically if it is not a fresh whole fruit that I can see in whole form, I don't eat it. I won't even as much as buy fresh fruit salad, it must be whole uncut fruits.
Jalapenos peppers are a fruit and I like eating them. I eat them straight and raw and trust me they are hot, but I like them.
08-27-2005, 09:04 PM
Should I tell you that I have a fig tree? I love this season. My neighbor has a different kind of fig (pale green on the outside and deep pink inside), and, according to our agreement, I have a stepstool that stays against my side of our fence, so every morning, if I don't have any ripe figs on my tree, I can pick those figs from his that are hanging over my fence. Yummm. Great breakfast.
I am not where you are yet, and I'm not sure that fruitarianism would work for me. But I follow food combining rules (though I may make exceptions for the magical green smoothies again), eat only sweet and slightly acidic fruit till early afternoon, and then have whole "veggies" (which are actually fruits, right? - tomatoes, avocadoes, cucumbers, etc.) and herbs and baby greens salads. Occasionally some seeds and a very rare couple of nuts tossed on the salad. Then, more fruit out of hand when I'm hungry.
Well, geez ... no one asked about my diet and I just blathered on. Sorry - it wasn't on topic at all!
08-27-2005, 09:24 PM
RawTruth, Breadfruit taste patato-like if you want a starchy vegetable taste, but you want to eat a fruit. Actually a person could slice Breadfruit real thin and dehydrate it, it would be like raw potato chips, yet you would still be eating fruit.
I stay away from the "cuisine" or dehydrated stuff though. I feel that would just be a step in the wrong direction for me. Staying fruitarian on strictly whole fresh fruits doesn't leave room for back sliding, so it keeps you in check.
Oh, off topic kinda, but I also had some star fruit today, good stuff.
08-27-2005, 09:35 PM
I haven't had any desire for starchy type veggies, actually, though I have wondered what breadfruit tasted like. I'm also almost entirely off dehydrated foods. I haven't used my dehydrator in about 2 months, I'd estimate. And ... your mention of star fruit makes me want to run out and buy some! Okay, that's it for me -- I'm signing off!
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