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Maple Syrup

Monday, 10 November 2008 | Tags:

Canada, particularly Quebec and Ontario, produces 80% of the world's real maple syrup, with Quebec's products comprising 75% of worldwide production. We taste test a few brands, both real and artificial, to find out which is best for topping off our pancakes, waffles, crepes and French toast.

 The Basics: Real Maple Syrup

  • The real thing can cost more than double, but if your taste buds are discerning, it’s worth it.

  • Real maple syrup should say 100% Maple Syrup on the label, with nothing else added.

  • When buying real, make sure the colour is clear, not crystallized. If it’s crystallized, it’s still good, but has been sitting on the shelf for a while.

  • Depending on when the syrup is harvested you can get quite a different product:

    • Early in the season produces light syrup.

    • Mid-season produces a medium-amber syrup – a favourite pancake topping.

    • Later in the season when the temperatures rise the bacteria breaks down the sucrose into lactose and fructose leaving the syrup quite dark with a caramel-y taste.

  • It’s probably not worth the extra cost for organic since maple syrup comes from pores where no herbicides or pesticides are used. 

  • One tablespoon (15 ml) of real syrup has 52 calories and 2 mg sodium, but no fibre, protein, fat, or cholesterol. 

  • A 60 ml dollop provides a good dose of these daily recommended minerals: riboflavin (25%), manganese (15%), potassium (5%), calcium (4%), zinc (4%) and magnesium (4%).

The Basics: Imitation Syrup

  • The fake stuff like Aunt Jemima’s just says “syrup” on the label. It lacks the complexity of real maple syrup, which just can’t be mimicked.

  • Be sure to read the ingredients to see what other additives are in the imitation syrup. The nutritional benefits of real maple syrup aren’t necessarily the same for imitation syrup.

  • Most imitations are primarily corn syrup, so the consistency is thicker.

Other Considerations

  • Buy only plastic or glass bottles. Syrup in metal can take on a metallic taste once opened.

TEST CRITERIA

We compared real syrups from Quebec and Vermont, and one imitation syrup, to see which was preferred by a bunch of hungry campers and their parents:

  • L.B. Maple Treat Light Quebec (Light Syrup): $1.29 per fl. oz.
  • L.B. Maple Treat Medium Quebec (Amber Syrup): 82¢ per fl. oz.
  • Vermont Maple Outlet Fancy (Light Syrup): 64¢ per fl. oz.
  • Vermont Maple Outlet Medium (Amber Syrup): 64¢ per fl. oz.
  • Aunt Jemima’s Original (Imitation Syrup): 17¢ per fl. oz.

Taste Test

  • The kids preferred Aunt Jemima for its familiar, not too intense taste, though it had too much of a synthetic taste for the discerning grown-up pancake eaters

  • Most adult testers picked L.B. Maple Treat Medium. It was rich and smooth, with a perfectly lingering taste, and a little went a long way.

  • The Vermont medium amber syrup was a little richer, and would work especially well other things, like salad dressings.

OUR TOP PICK

For pancakes, we liked the pure amber syrup L.B. Maple Treat Medium.

 

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