What is Maple Syrup?
Maple syrup, produced from maple sap, is a sweet, thick and rich syrup that is most known for being slathered on pancakes and waffles. It can also be used as an alternative sweetener for baking, a candy base, poured over ice cream and in savory/sweet cooking dishes. Yum!
How is Maple Syrup made?The finished maple syrup we pour over our pancakes all begins from the maple sap made by a Sugar Maple tree. Maple trees produce maple sap in warmer months through the process of photosynthesis using carbohydrates, sucrose and starch. Maple trees produce and use sap to carry water, nutrients and sugars throughout the tree to help nourish the tree from top to bottom.
Maple sap collection starts right at the beginning of Spring, when it is still a bit chilly outside. As the pressure within the tree changes from temperatures dropping to freezing during the nights and thawing during the days, sap will flow out of any holes that have been made by tapping the tree.
After the sap has been collected, it is then processed in a Sugar House by boiling and cooling to reduce the water content of the sap. This creates the thick and sticky maple syrup we all know and love!
Pure Maple Syrup vs Pancake Maple Syrup
If you’re looking to slather your waffles in a better-for-you maple syrup, there’s an important distinction to make between pure and imitation (or pancake syrup) maple syrup.
Pure maple syrup will only have a single ingredient on it's list (can you guess what that is?) and is generally more expensive for multiple reasons:
- Firstly, a LOT of sap is needed for just a little bit of syrup (40 litres to be exact!)
- The Maple tree needs to mature for 40 years before being tapped
- 2/3 of maple syrup is produced in Quebec, Canada (shoutout to our Canadian friends!)
Imitation syrup, or pancake syrup, is the cheaper, artificial alternative. There are many different types of pancake syrups that you can purchase, but typically they will either contain some maple sugar or will not contain any maple at all (and has an artificial maple flavour).
What to look forAs with all packaged goods, make sure to read the ingredients carefully! This should give you an idea on the quality of product that you are purchasing. Here are some key things to look out for when choosing a better-for-you maple syrup:
- Above all - buy pure maple syrup! Look for 100% pure maple syrup on the label to denote if it’s pure or not.
- Sugar – typically pancake syrups will have corn syrup as their first or second ingredient as well as some colouring added (usually labeled as caramel colouring). Pure maple syrup will NOT have any added sugars.
- Check the Grade and select a syrup based on your taste preferences - When shopping for a pure maple syrup, there are different grades that you can purchase – all of which will have different flavor profiles and colours. As a general rule, Grade B maple syrup is typically darker in colour with a very strong maple flavour, while Grade A is lighter and has a more subtle maple taste.
Ingredient Content – The Differences
Typically, pancake syrup is packed with refined sugars, and a whole bunch of ingredients you probably have never heard of - like sodium benzoate and sorbic acid.
Pure maple syrup is a healthier alternative to pancake syrups as well as even a replacement for refined sugar in some recipes, as it contains no refined sugar or artificial ingredients, and is full of vitamins, minerals & antioxidants... just the way we like it!
All of these reasons are exactly why we made the decision to use pure maple syrup to sweeten our products. We believe that health should come first, and all of our products use high quality, nutrient-rich ingredients, which is why pure maple syrup is a no-brainer for us!
And remember, just like dressings, not all syrup are created equal! We encourage a finer look at the packaging if you’re on the hunt for a better-for-you option.