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I make fruit smoothies often, and started off adding sugar. I'm looking for a more "natural" sweetener though. I know I can use honey, but it adds a distinct taste that I'd like to avoid. I've tried using dates as well, and it's a workable alternative, but also changes the taste slightly (and makes the smoothie "stickier"). What are other natural sweeteners to try, preferably that don't make a big difference to taste?

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Hi clueless, since health is off-topic on this site, I edited your question a bit to get the health part out of the way, while preserving your question as good as I can. –  Mien Jul 24 '12 at 10:03
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You know of course that sugar is just as 'natural' as honey, agave nectar, or anything else? Especially if you use unrefined sugar. –  ElendilTheTall Jul 24 '12 at 10:21
    
all sugar comes from refineries. just a matter of how much color is left behind –  Pat Sommer Jul 25 '12 at 10:30
    
Concentrated natural mango juice from your local Whole Foods or Trader Joes or Asian market. –  Blessed Geek Jul 26 '12 at 9:21

7 Answers 7

up vote 3 down vote accepted

You could try agave nectar -- but I'm not sure if it will be that much of an improvement over honey. A tiny pinch of salt might also help make the smoothie taste sweeter.

Usually though, if I want my smoothies to be sweeter I just add more juice or fruit (e.g. ripe berries, peaches etc).

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I usually make mine with fruit, yogurt, and juice. That tends to be sweet enough, and I like things really sweet. –  Yamikuronue Jul 25 '12 at 12:03
    
I wonder if the OP is using less sweet (and more tart) fruit, or even underripe fruit? Maybe they just like things really sweet, though. –  Jefromi Jul 25 '12 at 16:55
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I generally make a milk-based smoothie, so I guess it's more like a milkshake. So there's no juice. Just milk and fruit, some frozen and some fresh (and occasionally a bit of plain yoghurt). I have occasionally added a bit of juice and it gave me the desired taste... but I've been told that it's very similar to adding sugar :) I did try the pinch of salt trick, though, and it really made a difference! :) thank you –  clueless Jul 26 '12 at 14:09
    
@Jefromi - at what point is fruit the sweetest? The riper it is, the sweeter...? –  clueless Jul 26 '12 at 14:10
    
@clueless: If adding juice does what you want, then why not just do it? Sure, it's effectively adding sugar, but that's what all the alternatives will do too, unless you're looking for artificial sweeteners. And yes, riper fruit is sweeter. –  Jefromi Jul 26 '12 at 16:21

Maple syrup is great in smoothies! You only need maybe a tablespoon-full or so and at that amount the taste isn't overpowering or anything.

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The very act of sweetening it will change the taste. That's really the point.

However, if you like the taste of the smoothie sweetened with cane sugar, but are looking to ditch the cane sugar, there are three things you can try:

  • Dextrose
  • Stevia
  • Cream

Dextrose is basically glucose, rather than the fructose-glucose molecule of cane sugar. It isn't as sweet as cane sugar, but it won't alter the taste of your smoothie in any other way.

Stevia is quite different. Gram-for-gram, stevia is much sweeter than cane sugar. It also has a very slight aftertaste for some people, but nowhere near as pronounced as with something like aspartame. There is also suggestions your body doesn't even process it as sugar.

One other trick that I'm sure you won't have thought of is to add a little dairy cream. However, this only really works if you've cut right back on your fructose intake already (cane sugar and HFCS). The reason it works is because your taste has, by then, been resensitised to genuinely natural sweetness.

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I like Stevia a lot, but if you buy it in the stores it's way expensive. Far cheaper to get the pure powder online and make up a concentrated (1 drop per teaspoon sugar equiv) stock in 20% ethanol. Stevia's a slow binder (it takes a while to taste), so sometimes a mix of part Stevia and part sugar works best flavorwise. –  Wayfaring Stranger 2 days ago

frozen apple juice concentrate works well with a lot of flavors. Thawed keeps at least a week in the fridge.

Using up the last of a jam jar's sticky residue by shaking some juice/milk around, sweetens a smoothy with -yes, sugar- a bit extra flavor.

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If you want your smoothie sweeter, just add a half a banana.

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When you have a bunch of bananas go overripe, peel them, cut them into pieces, put them in a freezer bag and freeze them -- then use them in your smoothies. When bananas go black, they get very sweet and are ideal for things like smoothies (or banana bread), where texture doesn't matter, but the sweetness is desired.

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Sweet potatoes add sweetness and creaminess quickly- use sparingly!

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This might work in a smoothie that is meant to incorporate the taste of sweet potatoes, although the OP did specifically ask for sweeteners that "don't make a big difference to taste". –  Aaronut yesterday

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