Having recently turned vegan I have decided to switch from eating honey (for reasons behind this decision, check out this article) to instead using sweeteners such as Maple Syrup, Agave Syrup, Golden Syrup and Coconut Nectar. Whilst these sweeteners are vegan, and super tasty, they all have a huge carbon footprint associated with them. Maple Syrup is flown to Britain from Canada, Agave from Central America and Golden Syrup processed from sugar grown in the Far-East.
So whilst, on one hand, avoiding Honey will be helping bees and biodiversity, choosing alternatives sourced from across the World will be increasing the carbon footprint of our diet on the other. Is there anything we can choose to reduce this footprint? Or is this something we have to concede?
Well, in fact, we grow a form of sugar right here in the UK – Sugarbeet.
Sugarbeet is a root vegetable containing a high concentration of sucrose and is in the same family as beetroot and chard. The root vegetable is processed in factories in Britain into exactly the same sugar we know and love that is usually sourced from abroad.
So how can we get hold of this British-grown sugar?
The British company, Silverspoon, has been producing sugar from sugarbeet since 1972. This sugar is available from selected supermarkets. All you need to look out for is the Silverspoon bags of sugar with the Union Flag badge proudly flown in the corner (see below).
Silverspoon is doing an amazing job giving Brits a sustainable sugar option with a tiny carbon footprint in comparison to imported sugar. The benefits don’t stop there: the bags of sugar are made of paper from certified forests, they send nothing to landfill and any excess production energy helps to power British homes. The company also supports the Laboratory for Apiculture and Social Insects (LASI), which studies honey bees and other social insects to safeguard biodiversity; ‘Fareshare’, a charity which distributes surplus food to those in need; and ‘Food For Life’, a company making good food an easy option for everyone.
Having found an alternative to imported sugar, I wanted to find out if I could make this sugar into a pourable syrup I could use to sweeten my overnight oats or use in baking recipes. After a short search online I came across a simple recipe for home-made Golden Syrup:
Preparation Time : 10 mins
Cooking Time : 45 mins to 1 hour
Makes: more than 500 grams
Sugar – 100 grams / 1/2 cup
Sugar – 500 grams / 2 1/2 cup
Water – 4 tbsp
Boiling Water – 300 ml / 1 1/4 cup
Lemon – 1/2 a small lemon
Take a heavy bottom sauce pan, add 100 grams of sugar and 4 tbsp of water. Mix well by swirling the pan.
Mix on a low heat until the sugar is completely melted.
Cook this until the sugar caramelises. Don’t stir, just swirl the pan. cook till it gets nice golden colour.
Slowly add in boiling water and keep mixing. It will splatter, so be careful. Once you added all the water mix well so the sugar comes back to a boiling point.
At this point add in 500 grams of sugar and mix well. Keep mixing on a low heat until all the sugar is melted,.
Add in the lemon slice into the syrup and mix well.
Once all the sugar is melted, put the flame to a low simmer (very low flame) and simmer this for 25 to 30 minutes until the mixture thickens a little.
The mixture will look watery but once it cools it will thicken.
Strain the syrup and put it in a clean dry heat safe container when it is still hot.
Set aside to cool down completely, in which time it will be thickened like a golden syrup.
Cover and store it in your shelf for many months.
There are some key points you have to keep in mind whilst making this:
- When you are caramelising the sugar, just swirl the pan.
- When you are simmering the sugar for the final stage, cook it on a very very low heat.
- Adding lemon is important, the citric acid in the lemon will prevent the sugar from chrystalising.
- If have over cooked the syrup and once it cools down, if it gets too thick. Don’t worry, empty the sugar in a pan and add more boiling water and simmer for couple of minutes.
- Store this in a clean, dry heat safe jar in normal cupboard and not in fridge.
Take it from me, this syrup tastes so so good! It’s got the deep caramel flavour of Golden Syrup but with a subtle citrus note from the lemon. So if you’re looking for a vegan, planet-friendly, British-grown sugar, get down to your local supermarket and grab a bag of Silverspoon and spread the word!