The Japanese are familiar with Lakanto, they've been using it for over 10 years as a safe alternative to sugar. Until recently, Lakanto was not available in North America, but that's now changing.
Lakanto is made of erythritol, a fermented sugar alchohol made of non-gmo corn, and luo han, an incredibly sweet fruit with zero calories. Luo Han is about 300 times sweeter than sucrose, but unlike sugar, luo han has a host of healthy side effects. This ancient fruit is being investigated by Japanese scientists for its anti-tumor effects, its ability to control diabetes, and its protective effect against heart disease.
In the process of making erythritol, sugar is liquified and then fermented, filtered, and finally crystalized. The result is a sweetener that registers as '0' on the glycemic index. Erythritol is safe for diabetics and anyone looking to avoid the detrimental effects of sugar. As anyone who has tried Stevia, or other 'natural' sweeteners likely knows, there are few natural sugar substitutes that can be used to bake with. Lakanto, on the other hand, can be used 1:1 as a sugar substitute in cooking and baking.
Saraya Canada, a Japanese company, is bringing Lakanto to the Western Hemisphere. It recently received GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) status in the United States. Approval from Health Canada and the EU are pending. I've ordered a sample of Lakanto that I plan on using in some of my favourite recipes. I'll keep you updated on my experiments.
In the meantime, I've been enjoying a packet of Wholesome Sweeteners, "Organic Zero" in my tea every now and then. This sugar substitute is pure, organic erythritol. It's about 70% as sweet as sugar, but it too has a glycemic index of '0' and is safe for diabetics. This is basically the same product as the Lakanto, but without the luo han fruit (which is supposed to increase the sweetness and 'depth' of the Lakanto). While the Lakanto is non-gmo, it doesn't look to be available as an organic product while the "Organic Zero" is.
While you can buy erythritol at a cheaper price, I prefer to use the Wholesome Sweeteners product. I trust the reputation of the company which is important in ensuring that the sweetener doesn't have chemical sweeteners cut into it to reduce the price. I also prefer to use a product derived from organic ingredients. "Organic Zero" is readily available at all health food stores.
I plan on experimenting with some baking this weekend. We'll see what I can do with our favourite cookies and maybe some other goodies. As soon as I receive some Lakanto, I will do a full product review. Stay tuned...