Rice Syrup: A Grain-Based Alternative Sweetener

Rice syrup is made using cooked rice. The production method uses enzymes that turn the rice’s starches into sugars

California Natural Products, a company from Northern California, claims to have invented rice syrup and rice syrup solids in the early 1980s.

In the past, you could only find rice syrup in most Asian grocery stores, especially those that cater to Korean and Chinese communities. As its popularity as an alternative sweetener has crossed over to Western consumers, it is gradually becoming more widely available and can now be found in some well-stocked grocery stores.

Rice syrup has been used to adulterate honey by dishonest merchants because the two sweeteners have a similar color and consistency but rice syrup is cheaper.

Other names for rice syrup include brown rice syrup and rice malt syrup. Rice syrup is called ssalyeot in Korea but many Koreans also incorrectly call it mulyeot, which is the name for malt syrup. In Korea, the two names are sometimes used interchangeably.

Rice syrup flavor profile

Rice syrup’s main flavor is sweet. It is a fairly neutral sweetener with a sweetening power of about half that of honey. It has a hint of caramel with a mild buttery note to go with the sweetness.

Health benefits of rice syrup

Rice syrup is not known as a particularly healthy product but it does have a few important nutrients like:

  • Minerals: You can get a little iron and calcium from rice syrup.
  • Vitamins: Rice syrup does contain a moderate amount of B vitamins.

Because of these nutrients. Rice syrup may help to treat or prevent health problems like:

  • Osteoporosis: Calcium and other minerals found in rice syrup can help to slow bone density loss.
  • Heart disease: Because rice syrup contains no fructose, it does not have any of the harmful effects associated with fructose. Because fructose is processed into fat in the liver, it can lead to the clogged arteries that are characteristics of heart disease.
  • Celiac disease symptoms: Rice syrup won’t cause reactions among people with the condition who consume it since it contains no gluten.

Health concerns

Because rice syrup consists almost entirely of sugar, it is a high-calorie food that will cause obesity and other health problems if you fail to consume it in moderation. Consider this: rice syrup has more calories per serving than refined white sugar.

In addition to being a cause of weight gain, rice syrup can cause diabetes since it consists of two forms of glucose. Because glucose is an easily absorbed type of sugar, rice syrup causes blood sugar levels to spike and can be a factor in type 2 diabetes as a result.

The risk factors above are common with other types of sugar but rice syrup has a third health concern that is unique to rice products, which is arsenic. Rice syrup can contain high levels of the toxin arsenic.

Common uses

Korean cooks use rice syrup as a sweetener and for adding an appetizing sheen to foods. It is often used as a glaze by mixing it with soy sauce and other seasonings.

Outside the Asian applications, you can use rice syrup in Western dishes like other viscous liquid sweeteners. Its flavor profile is close enough to neutral that it can work as a coffee and tea sweetener. It can also work as a maple syrup alternative that you pour over pancakes and waffles. It is a popular ice cream topping in some places.