Brown Rice Syrup

Brown Rice Syrup is a natural sweetener produced by fermenting cooked brown rice. 

In appearance it is usually a thick syrup, light brown in color, having a pleasant mildly sweet flavor, with a hint of caramel and butter. It is about half as sweet as honey.

It can be used as a general sweetener and in cooking. It is vegan, unlike honey, and can be used instead of it. It has a lower glycemic index than sugar but diabetics will need to carefully count it as part of their regulated carbohydrate intake.

A typical breakdown would be:

Sugar Percentage
Water 18%
Maltose 65%
Maltotriose 10%
Dextrins 5%
Glucose 2%

It contains minerals such as magnesium and potassium and some B vitamins. It is a natural product and does not contain any chemicals. Fermentation is traditionally done with natural enzymes derived from sprouted barley. It is reputed to have a lower glycemic index than table sugar. However it contains about 50% maltose (by dry weight) which has a glycemic index of 105. This may call into question it's reported glycemic index of 25 it's more likely to be close to 50.

It mostly consists of two sugars, maltotriose and maltose and should be taken in moderation. Although it has a lower glycemic index than sugar it is far less sweet. Consequently, if it is used as a sweetener, more will be required, with a resultant glycemic load close to sugar, and a greater calorie count. Like all sugars it is harmful to teeth if taken to excess.

Safety Guidelines:
The World Health Organization recommend no more than 50gm refined sugar (about 12 small teaspoons) per day for an average adult and are considering reducing this to 25gm. This would apply to all sugars including honey and brown rice syrup.

Additionally concerns have been expressed regarding arsenic in organic brown rice being concentrated in the syrup. Reliable testing has found significant quantities present, so it would be advisable to use it sparingly.

It is made from brown rice. This is cooked with sprouted barley to break down the long carbohydrate chains into sugars. This liquid is then boiled down to the required consistency.

Sold As:
Sold as a syrup, usually in jars like molasses or honey. Usually only available is specialty health food shops or on line.

How Expensive?
It's reasonably expensive. It's about 5 times the price of sugar by volume, but only half as sweet. A 21 fl oz jar can be purchased on Amazon for about $12 less shipping.

Market Share:
It's market share as a sweetener would be virtually zero. 

Interesting facts:
Brown rice syrup is a natural product, and is not refined in any way. However it is usually filtered at the end of the process which probably removes fibre and other valuable nutrients contained in the grain. It goes without saying that brown rice is better for your health than the syrup. In addition, artificial enzymes are sometimes used in certain products sold on the market, in which case it cannot really be considered natural. Very good idea to check the label carefully. Try to source from a reputable supplier that guarantees a natural or organic product.

Does not require approval.


Conclusions for Brown Rice Syrup

Very pleasant syrup, useful in cooking and in certain recipes. It is a reasonably good source of some minerals and vitamins. However it contains almost no fibre and is almost pure sugar (maltose and maltotriose). On the plus side it contains no fructose or sucrose, and must consequently be regarded as safer than high fructose corn syrup or ordinary sugar. It is not suitable for diabetics and care needs to be taken to avoid excessive consumption. It should be used in place of, not in addition to ordinary sugar.

Taste: -------- Good
Aftertaste: ---- No.
Concerns: ----- Some

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