Last updated: August 16, 2021
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An absolute must on every trip to America or Canada, fresh pancakes with maple syrup. Its aromatic flavour, reminiscent of caramel, makes maple syrup suitable for refining many dishes.

But what exactly is maple syrup? Where is it grown and how is it made? We want to answer these and other questions in our maple syrup guide. We also reveal our favourites among the maple syrups on the market.




Summary

  • Maple syrup is 80% grown in Canada and originally consists of 100% sap from the sugar maple tree.
  • Maple syrup can be used to sweeten teas, mueslis and the like, but also for baking and savoury recipes.
  • Depending on the degree of intensity and the time of harvest, the taste of maple syrup is mild or spicy and the colour golden or brown.

The best Maple Syrup: Our Picks

There are countless manufacturers and brands of this liquid gold from Canada. So that you don't lose the overview, we have created a little help for you in this section based on our favourites. All the products presented are in the medium price segment.

Buying and evaluation criteria for maple syrup

There are countless different brands and manufacturers on the maple syrup market that produce and sell the sweetener. Domestic manufacturers such as Rapunzel or the DM house brand also sell their own maple syrups.

That is why it is sometimes difficult for us to decide which maple syrup to buy. That's why we have listed our 5 most important buying criteria here:

So that you know exactly what the listed criteria really mean, we explain the individual purchase and evaluation criteria in detail.

Origin

The main cultivation area for maple syrup is Canada. More precisely, the Quebec region in Canada. 80% of the world's maple syrup is produced here. America has also been cultivating the sugar maple tree to produce maple syrup for a very long time. Meanwhile, China has also entered the market.

Comparisons of maple syrups on various websites can sometimes be misleading. It can happen that the country of production is listed and not the country where the maple syrup is produced. If you want the taste of original Canadian maple syrup, you should make sure that the syrup was extracted and produced in Canada.

Cultivation

Maple syrup is one of the most natural products. The sap is extracted directly from the sugar maple tree and boiled down immediately after harvesting. However, as is common in agriculture, the maple tree is also treated with pesticides and synthetic fertilisers to increase the yield.

In the case of organically certified maple syrups, however, such agents are dispensed with during cultivation and natural fertilisers are used instead. You can recognise organically grown maple syrup if the bottle is labelled with the green seal for controlled organic cultivation. Also the expressions "organic" or "organic" are state-protected and stand for organic cultivation.

Taste

The taste of maple syrup varies depending on the degree of intensity and the time of harvest. The higher the degree of intensity and the later the harvest time, the darker the colour and the more aromatic and spicy the flavour. This results in caramel and honey notes, which can be combined very well with many other foods.

When buying maple syrup, you should consider how intense you want it to be. We recommend that beginners go for light maple syrup, as you can get to know the taste and not be overwhelmed by too many spicy notes. For real gourmets and connoisseurs, a higher degree of intensity is suitable. In other words, maple syrup with a darker colour and a much stronger and tangier aroma.

When shopping, you should orientate yourself more on the colour of the maple syrup and not on the different degrees of intensity, as there are different classification systems here depending on the state or continent. However, by the colour you can conclude how intense and aromatic the maple syrup will be in terms of flavour.

Ingredients

Even though maple syrup is a natural product, there are many alternatives of syrups with an artificial maple syrup flavour. However, these products are mostly laced with sweeteners and flavourings and do not have much in common with natural maple syrup.

The colour of these products is created by adding molasses. Molasses is the residue left over from the production of sugar. But colouring agents are also used to achieve the golden to brown colour of maple syrup. If you want to buy maple syrup, you should definitely make sure that the syrup is made from 100% of the sap of the maple tree and does not contain any additives.

Packaging

Most maple syrups that are available in shops are packaged in the typical maple syrup glass bottle with the small handle. The filling quantity is usually 250 g. The advantage is that the empty bottle is sustainable and can be recycled. In addition, the maple syrup does not take on a plastic taste.

If you order maple syrup online, you are sure to come across typically American and Canadian packaged maple syrups. In America and Canada, the syrup tends to be packaged in larger plastic containers of 1.32 kg or more. It is important to make sure that the plastic packaging is BPA-free. This means free of plasticisers so that the syrup does not take on a plastic taste.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about maple syrup answered in detail

Sugar substitutes like maple syrup or birch sugar usually go unnoticed due to the predominance of sugar, honey and co. To change that in the future, here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about maple syrup.

What is maple syrup?

Maple syrup originally comes from Canada and North America and, according to legend, was discovered by the Tomahwak Indians. Today, maple syrup is also produced outside Canada and America. The syrup is made from the sap of the sugar maple tree, and the harvest period runs from the end of February to April.

For this purpose, taps are cut into the tree and a maximum of 40 litres of sap are taken from each tree. This is to ensure that the maple tree remains healthy and can give sap again next year.

Maple syrup is made from the maple tree and is characterised by its intense aroma. (Image source: pixabay / Free-Photos)

The sap is then heated and boiled until it reaches the desired consistency. From 40 l of sap, 1 l of maple syrup is produced. This explains the higher price compared to sugar and honey. Finally, the sap is passed through a filter and usually bottled in the typical maple syrup bottles with a capacity of 250 g.

What are the different degrees of intensity of maple syrup?

It is well known that cane sugar has a more intense taste than granulated sugar. The same applies to maple syrup. Maple syrup is divided into different degrees of intensity. The European classification includes the following levels:

  • Grade AA: very light, very mild taste
  • GradeA: light, mild-aromatic taste
  • GradeB: caramel-coloured, caramel taste
  • GradeC: amber-coloured, strong-spicy taste
  • Grade D: dark, not used for general consumption

The intensity level is determined by the harvest time of the maple sap. The earlier the sap is harvested, the lighter and milder it is. The later the harvest, the darker and more aromatic the sap. If you want to learn more about the degrees of intensity, you can find many interesting guides and articles about this online.

Why use maple syrup instead of sugar?

Because of its aromatic taste, maple syrup can refine recipes and add a special touch. Maple syrup is also over 45% lower in calories than sugar and has a rejuvenating and anti-inflammatory effect. It also contains additional minerals and vitamins.

However, the nutritional values of maple syrup show that it also consists of 60% sugar and is therefore not suitable for people with diabetes. Like honey, maple syrup should therefore only be consumed in moderation. Be careful with the shelf life: Once opened, maple syrup should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within 6 months.

What can maple syrup be used for?

Maple syrup is versatile. Whether as a sweetener for tea or muesli or as a refinement for barbecue marinade. Porridge in particular can be improved very well with a little maple syrup.

You can find out which porridges are recommended on the market here. Maple syrup is also great for baking. Simply replace the sugar in grandma's cupcake recipe with maple syrup and you have a beautiful maple cake.

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Example of what a beautiful maple syrup cupcake might look like. (Image source: RitaE/Pixabay)

Note: If you are using maple syrup instead of sugar for a recipe, you will need to adjust the amount accordingly. Instead of 100 g sugar, use 70 g maple syrup.

A secret tip from us: Add your favourite fruit and some maple syrup to the smoothie maker and you have a super tasty, healthy smoothie. The syrup rounds off the acidity of the fruit, making the smoothie harmonious but not too sweet or sour.

Conclusion

If you are looking for an alternative solution to sugar, honey and the like, maple syrup is certainly one of the most suitable. Due to its naturalness and the increased organic cultivation, it is also sustainable and good for our environment. The minerals and vitamins it contains are good for our health. However, one should also pay attention to a healthy intake of maple syrup.

Due to the different flavours and degrees of intensity, there is a suitable maple syrup for every palate and every dish. When buying maple syrup, you should pay attention to the preferred flavour and intensity, but also consider the cultivation and ingredients.

(Cover photo: Eduardo Vázquez/ Unplash)

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