I don’t use syrup that often, but when it comes to breakfast foods like pancakes, waffles, and french toast, I can’t resist. Unfortunately, the type of syrup you find in many diners and restaurants, the kind most advertised on TV and in supermarket circulars, and the easiest to find on supermarket shelves, is not real maple syrup. Instead, it’s artificial syrup made from not very nutritious ingredients.
The first few ingredients in those “pancake syrup” and commercial brands of syrup like Aunt Jemima, Log Cabin, and Mrs. Butterworth’s, are corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and water. Not to mention the caramel color posted further down the list. Does that sound like maple syrup to you? It doesn’t even have maple flavoring in it!
Real maple syrup is boiled down from the sap of maple trees, and the only ingredient in it is “pure maple syrup.” In the US, there are different categories of maple syrup:
- Grade A: Light Amber, Medium Amber, and Dark Amber
- Grade B
The lighter the color, the less flavorful the syrup. Grade B maple syrup is the darkest, and most flavorful, but often too strong for most people to use on food. Instead, it is often used in cooking.
Nutritionally, maple syrup is an excellent source of manganese, a mineral that has antioxidant benefits and helps with energy production, and a good source of zinc, which also has antioxidant properties. One tablespoon of maple syrup has 52 calories. While this is more calories than a tablespoon of table sugar, maple syrup has the nutrional benefits listed above, which table sugar does not. Plus, maple syrup is more flavorful than table sugar, so less of it goes a longer way.
Like honey (which I previously wrote about), maple syrup is delicious on top of Greek yogurt, plain oatmeal, peanut butter sandwiches, sweet potatoes, and anywhere else you may use sugar. You can also use it when cooking and baking.
Interesting Fact: In the US, the most maple syrup is produced in Vermont, where 920 thousand gallons were produced in 2009!