Agave nectar (pronounced ah-GAH-vay) is well known as the plant from which tequila is made, it has also been used for thousands of years as an ingredient in food. The nectar made from the plant is known in Mexico as aguamiel, or "honey water."
The Aztecs prized the agave as a gift from the gods and used the liquid from its core to flavor foods and drinks. Now, due to increasing awareness of agave nectar's many beneficial properties, it is becoming a popular sweetener to replace white table sugar.
Agave is most often produced from the Blue Agaves that thrive in the volcanic soils of Southern Mexico. Agaves are large, spikey plants that resemble cactus or yuccas in both form and habitat, but they are actually succulents similar to the familiar Aloe Vera. Agaves come in many sizes and colors — well over 100 species. Agave's has a high carbohydrate content which results in a high percentage of fructose in the final syrup.
To make the agave nectar, sap is extracted from the pina, filtered, and heated at a low temperature, which breaks down the carbohydrates into sugars. Lighter and darker varieties of agave nectar are made from the same plants. Because of the low temperatures used in processing many varieties (under 118°F) raw foods enthusiasts generally regard agave nectar as a raw food.
It is often used in raw food recipes and when making confectionary as it gives a shiny finish which is similar to sugar. It is often used in raw chocolate making as the syrup gives a sheen and high end finish to the recipe.
It can also be used in a wide variety of other recipes.