Rice Malt Syrup
Even though rice malt syrup (also known as rice syrup or brown rice syrup) has been the long-time traditional sweetener used in China and Japan, it has found wide popularity more recently becoming the trendy 'healthier' alternative to sugar in baking and sweet treats.
Whilst it is a good vegan substitute for honey and alternative if you are avoiding fructose, unfortunately, when you look at it a little more closely it’s not necessarily the healthier sugar alternative we are led to believe it is.
Rice malt syrup is made, as its name suggests, from brown rice but it is still a sugar. It is essentially a glucose which means it has an extremely high Glycaemic Index (GI) – 98 in fact. To put this into perspective, regular white sugar has a GI of 65. Why this is important when you are looking for 'healthier' alternatives is that the GI is the measure of how quickly a food will your raise blood sugar. A high GI food will cause a rapid spike and then a dramatic fall which will lead to cravings and feeling hungry – essentially what rice malt syrup will do.
So how does it fair when it comes to taste? Rice malt syrup is bland and often has an unpleasant aftertaste. It doesn’t have any of the intrinsic aroma or flavour of other natural syrups such as honey or maple syrup. It is also about half as sweet as honey and therefore more is required to achieve a similar level of sweetness.
You can use it successfully as a substitute for honey, other syrups and granulated sugars keeping in mind the consistency of it and the lack of flavour. However, I would recommend using it only if you are looking for a vegan alternative to honey, or trying to avoid fructose.