Brix: What is It?

Brix: What is It?
Brix: What is It?

Brix is one of those topics that come up fairly frequently in sustainable agriculture.  Simply put, brix is a measure of the sugar content of a plant or other substance.

To be more specific, Brix expresses the weight of dissolved sugar as a percentage of the weight of the entire solution.  Pure water has a brix of 0%.  A solution of 5 grams of sugar to 95 grams of water would have a brix of 5%.

This measurement system was developed by and named for Austrian scientist Adolph Brix.

So how can this knowledge help us?

High-Brix Growing

Advocates of high-brix farming and gardening say that plants with high brix levels are vibrant and healthy—and vibrant, healthy plants resist insect pests and diseases.  They can also stand up to a light frost a little better.

High-brix fruits and vegetables generally have a sweeter, more appetizing flavor than their low-brix counterparts.  However, brix proponents claim that there are other benefits to growing and eating high-brix foods.  High-brix plants have a superior aroma and may be more digestible.  They may even have higher nutritional content (some caveats next week).

Brix can be used to positively determine if a fruit is ripe, as the sugar content of a fruit increases dramatically while ripening.

Finally, high-brix produce keeps surprisingly well.

More Uses for Brix

But brix is not just a useful tool for those who grow plants.  If you raise livestock, you can also benefit from monitoring brix:

  • Beekeepers use brix to monitor honey quality.
  • In dairy cattle, brix is used to evaluate the nutritional content of colostrum fed to calves.
  • To all grazing animals, brix equals palatability.  When given a choice, livestock will always choose high-brix forages over low-brix forages.

Some consumers also shop for brix these days, tapping into the nutritional benefits of high-brix foods.  Besides testing fruits and vegetables for flavor and nutrition, they can also check honey and maple syrup for dilution.

Next week: How do we measure Brix?

Published by hsotr

Motivated by her experience growing up on a small farm near Wichita, Kansas, Michelle Lindsey started Homestead on the Range to supply Kansas country living enthusiasts with the innovative resources that they need to succeed and has now been keeping families informed and inspired for over five years. Michelle is the author of three country living books. She is also a serious student of history, specializing in Kansas, agriculture, and the American West. When not pursuing hobbies ranging from music to cooking to birdwatching, she can usually be found researching, writing, or living out the country dream.