Making sense of glucose, fructose and dextrose, oh, my
A Time magazine headline from April 21, 2009, reads: "All Sugars Aren't the Same: Glucose Is Better, Study Says."
That article stated consuming too much fructose (table sugar is 50/50 fructose and glucose) can: "actually put you at greater risk of developing heart disease and diabetes than ingesting similar amounts of glucose" (aka dextrose).
If you read that article or other articles written since then, and you've gone hunting for glucose on your local supermarket shelves you probably didn't find it. What? Why not, if it's better than table sugar?
The term: glucose has some negative connotations. That's why you'll more easily be able to find dextrose than glucose. The names are considered interchangeable (Good Housekeeping states that glucose and dextrose are biochemically the same). My local supermarket doesn't carry dextrose, so I headed to an internet source (Amazon).
One of the things I made sure of when I went looking for dextrose was getting non-GMO dextrose (mine came from NOW Foods in Bloomington). Here's why. Corn is used in making dextrose, and there are two types of corn in the US; one is non-GMO corn, and one is GMO corn. Without knowing exactly, much of the dextrose sold in the US is the GMO corn variety.
To our palates, dextrose is not as sweet as sugar. A suggested conversion when trading dextrose for sucrose (table sugar), 30-percent more dextrose is needed to equal the sweetness of sucrose. OK, now what to test.
I found a healthy recipe for Applesauce Bread from Gretchen Holt-Witt's: "Best Bake Sale Cookbook." I figured that if Holt-Witt's recipes are meant to move-the-merchandise off the tables at a bake sale, they must produce tasty results.
Also, for two bread loaves, Holt-Witt only uses a mere half-teaspoon of cinnamon. That meant that her bread would be light on the cinnamon. Light on the cinnamon is my personal preference.
The biggest issue: how much dextrose to substitute for table sugar. I did the math and substituted 2 cups of dextrose for the 1½ cups of the required table sugar. I tasted the finished batter before it headed into my oven to make sure it was sufficiently sweet. It seemed "just" sweet enough.
Also, I went with organic unsweetened applesauce. Here are the two reasons why.
If that applesauce label reads "Applesauce," it has been sweetened; frequently with high fructose corn syrup. And this year, the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" listed apples as number 4 as the most likely to be contaminated with pesticides. That means the pesticides used to grow conventional apples cannot be thoroughly washed off. Unsweetened applesauce made from organic apples seemed to be the way to go.
I divided the batter between the two bread pans and, following the recipe, baked it for an hour. When I opened the oven door, I was surprised at how brown the loaves looked. The original recipe said to bake until "golden brown." I believe that the darker color was due to the dextrose.
Once cooled, I cut a slice from a loaf. The apple flavor was light as was the cinnamon flavor. Surprisingly the finished product didn't taste as sweet as the batter had before it went into the oven. I slightly increased the amount of dextrose for the next batch.
My dextrose experiment taught me a lot and ended well with two delicious loaves of apple walnut bread. If you want to experiment with dextrose, give my apple bread a try.
• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at don@ theleanwizard.com.