The sugar maple tree is responsible for producing this ultra-rich syrup that many of us prize for pancakes. As a thick, gooey flavor enhancer, maple syrup is a treat whether served at the table, baked into sweets, or used as a sauce for vegetables and other savory foods.
The sweetness of maple syrup is partially dependent on daily temperature fluctuations and the point at which it was harvested (early/mid/late season). Production methods, boiling temperatures, and reduction times also play a role in developing depth of flavor. All syrup is produced in North America with Canada as the major supplier.
Maple syrup is sold as either “pure” (natural) or imitation. Natural syrup is derived from a reduction of maple tree sap while imitation is a combination of corn syrup, maple flavoring, and food coloring.
Maple sugar is produced from pure syrup that is reduced until all liquid has been removed. Other products include butter, cream, and maple honey.
Syrups are USDA-graded and labeled. Grade A can range from light to dark and is typically used for table service. Grade B is usually darker with a more defined maple taste. It is commonly used for baking and in commercial products.
Pure products will always have a maple leaf symbol on the label. Imitation varieties are sometimes labeled “pancake” syrup.
Unopened bottles do not require refrigeration and can be kept for approximately two years. Once opened, refrigerate for about ten months. Maple syrup is good almost indefinitely in the freezer. It will never harden; bring to room temperature before using.
Always keep in plastic or glass containers as metals can cause a change in flavor. If any mold develops at the rim or on the surface, discard the entire batch.
When serving over foods, warm the syrup for more intense taste. It can be microwaved carefully or placed in a heat-proof container and warmed in a pan of simmering water.
Bananas, cereal, coffee, ice cream, nuts, oatmeal, peanut butter, sweet potatoes, tea, tofu
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