Rice syrup, which comes from Japan, is one of the oldest sweeteners available today. There are two different types of rice syrup sold commercially: industrial maltose syrup and rice syrup produced in a traditional manner. The latter is obtained by adding barley malt to cooked rice and heated water. The enzymes in the barley digest the rice and convert it mainly into maltose. Brown rice syrup has a consistency similar to honey and a mild, butterscotch flavor. It can be used to sweeten a wide range of dishes and baked goods.
Rice syrup can be used as an alternative sweetener. In vegan cooking, it is a favorite substitute for honey as the two have a similar consistency and appearance. Rice syrup can be used as a sandwich spread and to sweeten a wide variety of desserts and baked goods. This mild-tasting sweetener can also be used to add a finishing touch to vegetable and rice dishes. Rice syrup is also used as a sweetener for some types of drinks, for example, rice milk.
Brown rice syrup is sold in most Asian stores in the West as maltose syrup (the name comes from the high amount of maltose it contains). Organic grocery stores sell gluten-free and fructose-free (0.01 g fructose / 100 g) brown rice that is made using enzymes obtained from GMO-free microorganisms.
Rice syrup can be stored for up to almost a year. After it is opened, it should be stored in a cool, dry place.
Brown rice syrup (BRS) has a glycemic index (GI) of 98 which is higher than table sugar (65) and about the same as glucose (100), the sugar used as the baseline to measure other foods against. Brown rice syrup generated by this process [industrial production] is protein, fibre (hemicellulose) and lipid free and usually consists of 65–85% maltose, 10–15% maltotriose, 5–20% dextrins and only 2–3% glucose. The final carbohydrate mix of brown rice syrups can be controlled and adjusted by the manufacturer.1
Rice syrup can be gluten-free when it is produced without the addition of grains containing gluten and when the protein fraction has been removed. If these conditions are met, people eating a gluten-free diet can use it as a sweetener (see the Production section below). In addition, rice syrup contains little to almost no fructose and is well tolerated by those who can only consume a limited amount of fructose.
Brown rice syrup and products containing it were found in a 2012 study to contain significant levels of arsenic (As), which is toxic to humans. This is presumably due to the high prevalence of arsenic in rice. The authors recommended that regulators establish legal limits for arsenic levels in food, particularly in infant and toddler formulas.1
Brown rice (malt) syrup, also known as rice syrup or rice malt, is a sweetener which is rich in compounds categorized as sugars and is derived by culturing cooked rice starch with saccharifying enzymes to break down the starches, followed by straining off the liquid and reducing it by evaporative heating until the desired consistency is reached. The enzymes used in the saccharification step are supplied by an addition of sprouted barley grains to the rice starch (the traditional method) or by adding bacterial- or fungal-derived purified enzyme isolates (the modern, industrialized method).1
Traditional:In traditional practices, brown rice syrup is created by adding a small amount of sprouted barley grains (barley malt) to cooked, whole brown rice in a solution of heated water, similar to the production of beer wort. The enzymes supplied by the barley malt digest the carbohydrates, proteins and lipids to produce a sweet solution rich in simple carbohydrates with minor amounts of amino acid, peptides and lipids. The solution is strained off the grains and boiled to evaporate and concentrate the liquid to produce a low water syrup suitable for use as a sugar substitute. Such syrups are high in the simple sugar maltose and low in glucose and fructose, due to the enzymatic action of beta- and alpha amylase on starch supplied by the sprouted barley. These enzymes produce large amounts of maltose from starch digestion and generate very little glucose or fructose in the process. Traditional brown rice syrups will contain protein (up to 10%, depends entirely on the protein content of the grain used) and therefore may be unsuitable for gluten-free diets unless they are stated to have been clarified and had the protein fraction removed through processing.1
The modern, commercial preparation of brown rice syrup differs slightly. The ingredients consist of 100% modified rice starch generated by processing brown rice to remove the protein, hemicellulose and lipid fractions. The modification usually involves heat-assisted liquefaction of brown rice with enzyme isolates to produce a solution full of solubilised dextrins (derived from the breakdown of starch) and heat coagulated protein-hemicellulose-lipid complexes.1
Industrial producers can use enzymes obtained from GMO fungi or bacteria without declaring them on the label. In fact, the food industry now uses up to about 80 % of these types of enzymes.2 However, several countries do now require that the use of these enzymes be labeled.