Are you curious about alternative sweeteners to enhance your beverages and recipes? Let’s explore two popular options: simple syrup and stevia. Simple syrup, also known as “sugar syrup,” is a liquid form of sugar that effortlessly sweetens cold drinks like cocktails and lemonade. Not only is it versatile for beverages, but you can also drizzle it over desserts to add a touch of sweetness. Stevia is a sugar substitute extracted from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. With steviol glycosides as its active compounds, stevia offers intense sweetness with zero calories and negligible impact on blood glucose levels. Join us as we compare these sweeteners, examining their taste, applications, and suitability for various dietary needs.
Comparing Stevia vs Simple Syrup
|¼ tsp stevia: 1 tsp simple syrup
|1 tsp simple syrup: ¼ tsp stevia
|Only unprocessed stevia leaves
|Asteraceae plants (rarely)
|Depends on ingredients
|Pantry shelf life (unopened/sealed)
|2 – 5 years
|1 – 6 months
|Best for baking
|Sugar-free beverages and desserts
|Cocktails and sweet iced beverages
Differences Between Stevia And Simple Syrup
There are distinct differences between basic simple syrup and alternative sweeteners. Basic simple syrup, comprised of equal parts pure cane sugar and water, is a classic recipe. However, many commercial simple syrups deviate from this formula, employing artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, or high-fructose corn syrup. This liquid sweetener finds use in various beverages such as cocktails, iced tea, iced coffee, and lemonade. Its liquid form allows easy blending into cold drinks, making it preferable over regular sugar.
On the other hand, stevia, a popular alternative sweetener, offers different benefits. It is a calorie- and carbohydrate-free option, making it an attractive choice for those seeking to reduce calorie intake or manage blood sugar levels. Stevia-derived products do undergo some processing to extract powdered white tablets or liquid extract. While stevia does not offer the same caramelization properties as sugar, making it less suitable for baked goods requiring a golden brown color, it can still be incorporated into sugar-free baking with slight recipe modifications.
Taste and Culinary Uses
Classic simple syrup offers a sweet and straightforward flavor profile, primarily derived from different sugars. In contrast, flavored simple syrups elevate culinary creations by infusing delightful tastes like vanilla, mint, and lemon. These syrups are commonly employed in specialty cocktails, lemonades, flavored iced teas, and hot and iced coffee.
On the other hand, stevia showcases its distinct sweetness attributed to steviol glycosides. While stevia provides sweetness, it occasionally introduces undertones of bitterness, licorice-like aromas, and a metallic or astringent mouthfeel. Consequently, some individuals may find stevia less preferable in specific applications, especially when it overpowers the desired taste in baked goods.
Stevia can be a suitable substitute for sugar in many recipes, primarily when blended with other ingredients to mask unwanted flavors. When heated at high temperatures, stevia exhibits excellent stability. However, as a standalone sweetening ingredient, it may not perform as effectively in baking recipes and is more suitable for individual use.
Are Stevia and Simple Syrup Substitutes for Each Other?
You can substitute liquid stevia drops with simple syrup; you just need to use much less! For every teaspoon of simple syrup, try replacing it with only ¼ to ½ a teaspoon of liquid stevia drops.
Nutritional Profile And Health Benefits
Simple syrup (2 tbsp)
- Calories: 80
- Carbohydrates: 19 g
- Sugars: 19 g
- GI: around 65
Stevia (1 gram)
- Calories: 0
- Carbohydrates: 1 g
- Sugars: 0 g
- GI: around 0
Simple syrup is a quick source of energy due to its high sugar content, but it lacks nutritional value. On the other hand, stevia extract contains certain glycosides that have been shown to widen blood vessels and potentially lower blood pressure.
Simple syrup, depending on the type of sugar used, may or may not be vegan-friendly. However, if you’re following a keto diet, you have the option to purchase or make keto-friendly simple syrup. Similarly, those adhering to a paleo diet have options to make or purchase paleo-friendly simple syrup. Unfortunately, simple syrup is not approved for the Whole30 diet.
Pure stevia leaf is considered vegan as it is solely sourced from plants. Many other forms of stevia, such as stevia-based sweetener blends, are also vegan-friendly. These blends often include ingredients like erythritol (a sugar alcohol) or monk fruit (a natural non-caloric sweetener), both of which are compatible with a vegan diet. However, while stevia is acceptable on a keto diet, it is not suitable for a paleo or Whole30 diet unless you use the leaves from the plant instead of the processed powder.
How to Store Stevia and Simple Syrup
To store simple syrup, place it in an airtight container and refrigerate it until ready for use. As for stevia, store it in a cool, dry place. If unopened packets of stevia have reached their expiration date, it is best to discard them as the desired sweetness may not be achieved.
Price and Availability
The price of simple syrup can vary depending on its size and type, starting from $4.00 and increasing. On the other hand, the cost of Stevia can differ based on the form you choose to purchase, with prices generally starting at around $1.50 per ounce. It is readily available at numerous supermarkets and health food stores.
The syrup industry faces environmental impact challenges, particularly in ingredient sourcing. Many syrups rely on sugar derived from sugarcane or sugar beets, contributing to deforestation, water pollution, and soil degradation. Syrup manufacturers can prioritize sustainable and responsibly managed agricultural practices when sourcing ingredients to mitigate these issues. By doing so, they can help reduce environmental harm.
In terms of sweeteners, stevia-based alternatives offer a more environmentally friendly option compared to traditional sugar. Recent research indicates that natural sweeteners derived from stevia can generate as little as ten percent of greenhouse gas emissions. This makes stevia a sustainable choice for those seeking to minimize their environmental impact.
Stevia vs Simple Syrup: The Ultimate Verdict
I prefer simple syrup for cocktails and sweet beverages because there is no strange aftertaste. However, suppose you are on a sugar-free diet. In that case, liquid stevia is an excellent substitute for your iced beverages as it is one of the most natural sugar-free alternatives. The verdict, then? Depends on your dietary needs.
Stevia is a natural sweetener frequently employed as a sugar substitute in beverages like soft drinks and cocktails. While it works well, be prepared for a slight aftertaste compared to regular sugar.
Unlike artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols, stevia is a natural option and less likely to cause digestive upset, so it is often a preferred sugar-free sweetener.
In Europe, there is a common misconception that stevia is completely prohibited. However, the European Union (EU) permits stevia as a food additive, albeit with specific limitations. These limitations primarily concern the quality and composition of products containing stevia.