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Maple Syrup: The Sweetest of Spreads

maple syrup

A partner for life as a condiment for pancakes, waffles, French toast, and oatmeal. 

History of Maple Syrup

There is no definitive proof as to when the maple syrup first came into existence, but one of the many origin stories posits that indigenous American people first started using the sweet syrup after a tomahawk was thrown at a tree causing sap to run out of it.

Early records from European settlers indicate that native american peoples had been making maple syrup for many years. The earliest record of maple syrup production comes from 1609. European settlers began the production of maple sugaring after learning the trade from the native people. 

Today, Canada is the world’s largest producer of maple syrup;as much as 71% of the world’s maple production comes from Canada and 91% of production from inside Canada comes from Quebec alone. It’s not a surprise that the motif on the Canadian National flag is that of a red maple leaf. 

Flavor of Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is sweet and rich with a very subtle spiciness. Pure maple syrup is viscous in texture  and comes in a variety of grades. Due to the manufacturing process, pure maple syrup is an expensive condiment. Artificial maple syrup is a popular alternative to the real deal. Flavors such as vanilla, caramel,  and prunes may be added when making artificial syrup to mimic the natural flavor of maple syrup. While artificial syrup comes close to mimicking real maple syrup, many purists believe that there is no substitute for original. 

maple syrup
Image Credit: Flickr user caribbCC BY-NC-ND 2.0 )

Health Benefits of Maple Syrup

Maple syrup contains a high amount of antioxidants. The inclusion of antioxidants helps in reducing various chronic diseases. Gallic acid, benzoic acid, and cinnamic acid are some of the antioxidants found in maple syrup.

Maple syrup also helps fight inflammatory diseases as well as helps protect against cancer. It also has an abundance of vitamins and minerals which help in immunity and fight illness. 

Culinary Benefits of Maple Syrup

The most famous and the most obvious use for maple syrup is with pancakes. The two items are synonymous with each other. 

While pancakes and maple syrup are the most well-known pairing, other breakfast items  like French toast, waffles, and even oatmeal are incomplete maple syrup. Check out this quick 10 minutes recipe for Waffle Casserole that works great with maple syrup.

Maple syrup is also great in salad dressings, as it dissolves easily when whisked together with oil and acid. Looking for something a bit more decadent? Swap maple syrup for brown sugar in our Bacon Jam recipe. The combination of the smoky bacon and sweet syrup is irresistible when spread on toast. 

Maple syrup can also be added to your morning tea or coffee if you’re looking for an alternative to more processed types of sugar. Because it is liquid at room temperature, maple syrup dissolves easily in hot beverages. Want to have something interesting for your breakfast? Take a look at our Blueberry Maple Breakfast Strata recipe, which relies on a touch of maple syrup for sweetness. 

Other common culinary uses of maple syrup are in cocktails, as a topping on ice cream, on pies, or as maple granola. 

Grades of Maple Syrup 

Instead of types, maple syrup is generally graded. To make sense let’s delve into it further.

Image Credit: Flickr user astanleyjones ( CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

●     Grade A: Amber color and rich flavor

A bit darker in color, this syrup is made mid-season and has a well-rounded, smooth flavor.

●     Grade B: Dark color and robust flavor

It is a step up from the former grade and has a deeper and stronger flavor, more brown sugar-like. It is used for glazing grilled meat.

●     Grade C: Extremely dark color and strong flavor

This grade has the most robust flavor as it is tapped out last in the maple season. 

Grade C syrup is not sold commercially but instead is sold to factories who in turn make maple candies out of it due to its excessive strong flavor.

Storage

An unopened maple syrup bottle or container can be kept in the pantry and away from sunlight for as long as 2 to 4 years. Once opened, maple syrup needs to be refrigerated at all times or it will start losing its freshness. 

Feature Image: piviso from Pixabay 

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