One thing that perplexes non-Vermonters is maple syrup. We are talking REAL Maple Syrup here! No pancake syrup. Whatever that is. A trip to the grocery store can all to easily lead to brand confusion, and maple confusion. So here is how you can make sure you are getting the real thing, not some lame, artificial, imitator.
There is only ONE ingredient in maple syrup: MAPLE SYRUP. If there is ANYTHING else listed under ingredients walk away and put it down. It’s not real syrup.
Maple syrup is made by boiling down sap from sugar maples. That’s it. You tap the trees, collect sap (either in the old-fashioned buckets or in the new-fangled tubes), then boil it down to make syrup. Nothing is added other than heat.
Maple Flavor ISN’T MAPLE
I’ve never met a maple flavored anything that had maple in it. If it says “with Maple Flavor” it’s not real maple. Put it back. If it has REAL maple syrup it will say something like 100% PURE Maple Syrup. Again, look at the ingredients, the maple flavor part should only have one sort of maple flavor: Maple Syrup.
It’s All Organic
This is one of the times where it doesn’t pay to buy “organic” maple syrup. All maple syrup (at least the way Vermonters do it) is actually wildcrafted. The maple trees grow wild naturally in the woods. Everywhere. Sure you might plant maple trees, but they still just grow wild in the woods. It’s not like corn, you don’t have fields of manicured maple trees sprayed with pesticides. No – not how it works. You have woods aka the sugar bush where the trees are growing naturally, wild.
It Has Grades
There are several grades of maple syrup, in fact they recently re-did the grading system to make it “easier” to understand and to conform with other maple syrup grading systems *grumbles about hating change*. These grades have NOTHING to do with quality. They have to do with the flavor. Generally the darker the syrup, the stronger the maple flavor is. Darker syrups are best for things like baking. If you are buying “maple syrup” and it doesn’t have a grade, walk away. It’s fake.
It Has Other Nutrients
Unlike refined sugars, maple syrup has nutrients in it. It has vitamins and minerals like magnesium, calcium, riboflavin, zinc and potassium to name a few. That means it’s healthier for you than those refined sugars.
There are Imposters!
Be warned, there are imposters out there! Looking at you Log Cabin! They try to copy the branding of real maple syrup. Sure that bottle might be covered in log cabins, snow and sugaring scenes, but read the fine print first! Read the ingredients! This issue is so bad that Sen. Leahy and the rest of the Vermont delegation are trying to ensure that maple syrup gets the protection it deserves.
Fake maple tastes NOTHING like real maple. Don’t confuse the two! If you think you don’t like maple, find yourself some real actual maple syrup and try that. If you are looking for an awesome maple recipe to try, how about some maple &candied bacon scones with maple glaze?
Have you ever had real maple syrup? Have you ever thought you got real maple syrup only to be tragically disappointed?
PS. For the record if I ever say maple in any recipe, post or conversation, I only EVER mean 100% pure Vermont maple syrup.
PPS. Yes, we did make maple syrup for several years when I was a kid. Pro tip: Don’t use mom’s roasting pan, cuz if you burn the syrup on it you’ll have to get her a new one.