Maple Syrup

749196_22440404I used to think maple syrup was just for pancakes.  How silly of me to have such a limited imagination!  Well, I have recently seen the light and discovered that it can also be great as a sweetener in baking.  And considering I just bought a huge quart of it, expect to see some more maple-infused baked goods in the near future. 

Maple syrup is a natural, unrefined sweetener that comes from the sap of maple trees.  The Native Americans were the first to discover its deliciousness and often drank it as a sweet drink or used it in cooking.  Nowadays, maple syrup is widely enjoyed and its production is centered in northeastern America.  Vermont may be the most famous producer in the U.S. – its state tree is the sugar maple! – but Quebec actually makes more than 80% of the world’s maple syrup.  Mmmmm…think of how many pancakes could be slathered with that sticky sweetness.

Maple syrup production farms are called “sugar bushes” or “sugarwoods.”  Isn’t that cute?  To collect the sap – aka future maple syrup – holes are drilled into maple trees and tubes are inserted into the holes.  February and March are usually the best months to do this because the change in temperature from freezing nights to warm days creates pressure in the tree to draw the sap out.  The sap then flows into buckets or goes straight through the tubes to the “sugar shack” or “sugar house” – again, awesome name – where the magic really happens.  When the sap comes out of the tree, it’s clear and basically tasteless.  But in the sugar shack, it’s boiled, the water evaporates, it becomes sweeter and darker and maple syrup is born!  It takes about 40 liters of sap – about how much is produced by one tree in 4 to 6 weeks – to make 1 liter of maple syrup. 

In the U.S., maple syrup is labeled either Grade A or Grade B.  Grade As are the light, medium or dark amber colored maple syrups.  These are produced early in the season and have a mild, delicate flavor.  Grade Bs are the dark maple syrups.  They’re the late bloomers and have a more robust flavor.  Nutrition fact of the day!  Both kinds are great sources of manganese and zinc.

To substitute maple syrup for sugar, I replace every 1 cup sugar with 3/4 cup maple syrup.  I also use a bit less liquid than the recipe calls for since maple syrup adds some of that to the mix.  If I’m substituting maple syrup for another liquid sweetener, I go one for one.

And I’ll leave you with this: Every single time I went to type “maple syrup” for this post, I typed “maply syrup.”  So it has hereby been renamed in my book.

What’s your favorite recipe that uses maply syrup?


23 Responses to “Maple Syrup”

  1. 1 VeggieGirl November 21, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    LOOOOVE REAL MAPLE SYRUP!!! None of that fake stuff around here, EEEVVVEEERRRR 😀

    I use maple syrup for a LOT of baked good recipes – too many to name, haha.

  2. 2 Lindsay November 21, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    ahhhhhhhhh i totally love maple syrup but sadly i haven’t done too much experimenting but i always use it in place of honey in recipes… i love the taste of it 🙂

  3. 3 Jennifer November 21, 2008 at 9:04 pm

    I grew up on REAL Maple syrup- my dad made it each spring… SO good, we used it (and I still do) in everything!!

    weirdest thing but so good: on eggs. serious, try it! 😀

  4. 4 Betsy November 21, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    I’m such a maple syrup fan. when I was a kid, every spring, we would go to the local arboretum in ohio for a huge maple syrup demonstration throughout the woods of the arbo…so much fun! and i’ve only had the fake stuff a handful of times…only the real stuff in my house!!! my dad’s grade school even made their own and we still get some every year.

  5. 5 Andrea [bellaeats] November 22, 2008 at 1:08 am

    Yum!!! I’ve never actually baked with maple syrup, but I love when the syrup from my pancakes makes it over to the bacon side of my plate… 🙂

  6. 6 Jessica November 22, 2008 at 1:10 am

    Lately my favorite use of maple syrup in a recipe has been Roasted Root Vegetables with Maple Glaze. I blogged about it a while back, at the end of October I think. It is just a mixture of diced root vegetables (I used carrots, red potatoes and turnips) with salt, pepper, a little olive oil, and a couple tablespoons of maple syrup. You could also use butternut squash or parsnips in place of any of those veggies. This stuff is so good I could eat it every day. In fact, I am making it for one of my veggie dishes for Thanksgiving dinner!

  7. 7 sweetandnatural November 22, 2008 at 11:48 am

    VeggieGirl – I agree. Real deal is the way to go. Though I will admit…I grew up on the fake stuff. *hides head in shame* It’s what my parents bought – I didn’t know any better!

    Lindsay – Haha, I’ve usually done it the other way around – used honey instead of maple syrup – because I don’t normally have maple syrup on hand. It’s pricey!

    Jennifer – How cool that you made your own maple syrup! I love stuff like that.

    Betsy – Maple syrup demonstration – sounds fun!

    Andrea – Haha, I so do NOT like when my syrup touches my bacon! I’ll keep my salty and sweet separate, thank you very much.

    Jessica – I love roasted vegetables with maple syrup! Sweet potatoes are a favorite of mine to prepare that way.

  8. 8 Hangry Pants November 22, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    Sometimes I use honey instead of sugar, but I’ve never tried maple syrup. Good tip! I love maple syrup, like straight from the Vermont trees on pancakes. 😀

  9. 9 Sharon November 22, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Top off a bowl of oatmeal with pure maple syrup – I love it!

  10. 10 Joanna November 22, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    there is nothing like pure maple syrup. i used to get imitation or sugar free all the time, but when i took my first smell of the real stuff, i was just in heaven. i can’t even describe it!!! i use it all the time in baking and also on muffins, sweet potatoes, and tofu cottage cheese.

  11. 11 Tim Rosanelli November 22, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Nothing beats the favor of real maple syrup. I use it on oatmeal and waffles.

    Tim Rosanelli

  12. 12 sweetandnatural November 22, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    Hangry Pants – Honey and maple syrup are both great subs for sugar!

    Sharon, Tim Rosanelli – It’s also good on top of yogurt. Yum!

    Joanna – LOVE maple syrup and sweet potatoes.

  13. 13 Mel November 22, 2008 at 4:28 pm

    My favorite memory is making maple candy in the snow with it. I just remember wanting to do it after reading Laura Ingalls Wilder. It was really good, that’s about all I remember.

    I haven’t baked with it yet, but it’s so good in oatmeal!

  14. 14 Angela November 22, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    I have a great vegan oatmeal raisin cookie recipe that uses real maply syrup! They are delicious!


  15. 15 sweetandnatural November 23, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    Mel – Yum – maple candy sounds delish!

    Angela – Share please! 🙂

  16. 16 emily November 23, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    yummy post! i mix maple syrup with nonfat plain Greek yogurt for the best taste of all time!

  17. 17 sweetandnatural November 24, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    emily – I do the same thing with honey! I’ll have to try maple syrup too.

  18. 18 ttfn300 November 24, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    ah, i grew up on mrs. b’s, so i’ll always have a soft spot 🙂 recently i’ve been enlightened though, and now am trying to encorporate more natural sweeteners! i always wondered about replacing dry ingredients, so thanks for the tip!

    i did happen to come across some maple sugar at teh farmers market which was fun!

  19. 19 sweetandnatural November 24, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    ttfn300 – Yup, we always had Mrs. B’s or Aunt Jemima around my house too. How can you not have a soft spot for something that comes in a bottle shaped like your grandma?! And I haven’t tried maple sugar yet. How do you like it?

  20. 20 Melanie December 1, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Being from Quebec, I use maple syrup all the time. I use it in baking, in my oatmeal, on my pancakes, on eggs, on “tourtière” (quebec tradionnal meat pies) and a lot more. When the time comes, me and my partner buy it in bulk from local “sugar farmers”. We also have “Cabane à sucre” (sugar house or shack) which is a tradition here in Quebec around “sugar times” (Le temps des sucre). It’s a place where you go to eat, it’s usualy in the woods/country and there’s all sorts of food served with maple syrup or made with maple syrup. So delicious!

    For more info, go here :


  21. 21 sweetandnatural December 2, 2008 at 12:03 am

    Melanie – Thanks so much for the info! The cabane à sucre sounds really cool. Though I’m somewhat wary of the eggs cooked in maple syrup… 😛

  22. 22 Amanda December 2, 2008 at 9:13 am

    wow that was really enlightening! I’ve been looking at all the varieties lately and haven’t been able to figure out which one’s are worth the money.

  23. 23 sweetandnatural December 2, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    Amanda – Glad you enjoyed the info! Maple syrup IS pricy, right?!

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