While the most commonly known and widely used sugar is sucrose (table sugar), fructose is an alternative to be considered. A simple sugar, it is found in fruits and has been said to be more healthful than table sugar. Even though it has the same amount of calories per ounce, it has a lower glycemic index and is up to 1.5 times sweeter so less can be used. Because the properties of fructose are slightly different than those of sucrose, modifications often have to be made when using it in cooking or baking.
Note: if you are diabetic, be sure to consult your doctor before using fructose. Fructose is safe for some diabetics because it does not raise insulin levels, but for others it still poses risks.
The form of fructose most commonly used in the home is crystalline fructose, which looks like regular sugar. This is not the same as high fructose corn syrup, which is a mixture of both fructose and glucose. Instead, it is pure granulated fructose. It should be stored in an airtight container to prevent it from clumping. Fructose is quicker than sucrose to absorb moisture from air.
Fructose can easily be substituted for table sugar in baking and cooking. Results can vary, however, so it is recommended that you use recipes that specifically call for fructose whenever possible. But if you want to replace sugar with it, just keep a few things in mind. It is sweeter than sucrose, but only at cooler temperatures. If you are going to be serving something hot, you can substitute the same amount of fructose as sucrose. However, in cold or room-temperature foods, it is recommended to use about 1/3 less fructose than the amount of sucrose called for. Even if you are making a baked good which will reside in a hot oven, if you will not be serving it hot, use the reduced amount of fructose. You may also find that fructose increases the height of your baked good, so make sure it does not overflow the pan. Baked goods will also last longer and brown more nicely.
Fructose can also be used for the same things table sugar is often used for, such as sweetening coffee or tea, or adding to breakfast cereal. It pairs especially well with fruit since fruit contains fructose naturally. By combining fructose with other sugars, it may even taste sweeter.
Fructose can be a great alternative to sucrose if you are diabetic or looking to control your blood sugar levels. It also contributes several properties to baked goods which regular sugar does not. Experiment with using fructose in place of sucrose, and you may find you prefer it.