The perfect Sunday morning breakfast would be a stack of fluffy pancakes topped with a block of softened butter, and a generous pour of thick maple syrup. It is safe to say that a heavy drizzle of maple syrup on top of pancakes or waffles (or other types of foods) can elevate the taste to a different level. With a smooth consistency, rich taste, and beautiful color, maple syrup is one of the most loved syrups in the world.
Although it is a favorite, it can be hard to differentiate between the different types of maple syrups. Maple syrup is often differentiated by its grades. Maple syrup grades depend on the color and taste of the syrup.
That is exactly why being aware of the different grades of maple syrup is crucial for real maple syrup lovers. To expand your knowledge on maple syrups, we have comprised an article that will enlighten you about everything you need to know about this wondrous syrup.
What is Maple Syrup?
Maple syrup is a kind of syrup is made with the sugary sap excreted from the maple tree. In the preparation process, it is important to pierce through or tap the tree to get hands-on its precious sap. The maple tree begins to gather the starch in its trunk and roots during the time that comes after the wintertime.
The gathering process of the starch during this time makes it easy for it to change the original state of the sap into sugar. When springtime approaches, the sugar rises and mixes in with water so the starch can be turned into sap and it can get ready for harvesting or collecting.
Because the maple tree sap has a high content of water in it, it is important for it to go through a process that evaporates the water out of it, leaving a thick and concentrated syrup behind. Then, the thick, concentrated syrup has to go through a heating process. This whole process does not include any agents, chemical additives, or preservatives.
Nutritional Value of Maple Syrup
According to the USDA, the nutrients found in maple syrup include water, fat, sugar, carbohydrates, energy, and protein. There is also a mineral content in maple syrups that includes iron, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, calcium, magnesium, and sodium. It also includes vitamins like riboflavin, B6, thiamin, and niacin.
Types of Maple Syrups (or Grade of Maple Syrups)
When trying to classify maple syrups according to their grading system, you should know that there are only two classifications: the Canadian classification and the American classification. The only difference between the Canadian and American maple syrup classification would be the terminology. The two different kinds of classifications can create confusion for buyers and producers from different countries when discussing maple syrups. Moreover, it can be confusing for consumers as well.
Most commonly, maple syrup is classified in 3 grades in which there are different color classes. The Canadian classification system classifies the syrup with numbers (like No.1, No.2, and No.3) and the American classification system uses Grades (A, B, and C).
The classification of maple syrup is solely based on the translucence of the syrup. This means the amount of light that shines through the syrup is how it will get classified. Producers use a tool known as the light transmittance meter that helps them classify the maple syrup. The percent of the light transmission is then compared to the set light transmission rates of the different grades, and then the final grade is given.
However, before getting classified and receiving a grade, easy maple syrup sample needs to meet the following requirements:
- Maple syrup must not ferment
- Maple syrup must have a uniform and clear color
- The maple syrup flavor should be according to its color grade and it should not have any unpleasant flavors and smells.
Grade A: Light Amber or No. 1 Extra Light Color
In this maple syrup, the light transmission is more than 75% and it has a subtle taste. The color is lightly golden (it is the lightest colored syrup) and it has a very subtle and delicate taste.
Grade A: Medium Amber or No. 1 Light Color
The light transmission in this maple syrup ranges from 60.5% to 74%. It possesses a beautiful golden color with a subtle, mild yet sweet maple flavor.
Grade A: Dark Amber or No. 1 Medium Color
This maple syrup has a light transmission that ranges between 44% to 60.4%. It possesses a typical maple taste and a sweet, mild maple flavor. This is the maple syrup that is most commonly used in cooking, pancakes, and other things.
Grade B or No. 2 Amber Color
This maple syrup has a light transmission that ranges between 27% to 43.9%. It has a strong, rich maple taste with a dark color. This maple syrup is too strong to be used as a normal syrup, but it can be used in baking or cooking.
Grade C or No. 3 Dark Color
In this maple syrup, there is less than a 26.9% light transmission. This maple syrup has a robust taste that resembles the taste of caramel. It is commonly used as a commercial ingredient that has a very dark color.
Different Uses of Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is most commonly used in meals to elevate the taste. This is why it is considered to be a key ingredient used in cooking different food items.
Here are the most common uses of maple syrup:
- Used to add flavor in ice cream, sausages, different fritters, fresh fruits, and other such items.
- Commonly used as a topping for pancakes along with waffles and French toast. These are the common breakfasts and delicacies in Europe, Canada, and America.
- Because it has a sweet flavor, maple syrup is often used as a sweetener when making granola, cakes, baked beans, and bread.
- Instead of using honey, wine manufacturers use maple syrup in the winemaking process.
How to Select and Store Maple Syrup?
When you are selecting maple syrup, it is important to consider what purpose you are purchasing it for. When using it in buttermilk pancakes, ice cream, or as a fruit topping, the best option would be to choose a light flavored maple syrup (Grade A Medium Amber). Since maple syrup is so commonly used on pancakes, it is often referred to as pancake syrup. The dark and strong taste maple syrups (Grade B or C) can be used as a topping for waffles. Sometimes, it is also used as a replacement for chocolate sauce.
Maple syrup is a syrup that is available in the entire world. It needs to be stored in a cool place before you open it and after opening it needs to be stored in a refrigerator. If there is any sign of mold in the syrup, get rid of it immediately.
Canada produces the largest amount of maple syrup and then the United States. The good part is that you do not necessarily have to be in this area in order to get your hands on maple syrup because it is sold in stores all around the globe.
Benefits of Maple Syrup
Full of Antioxidants
One of the biggest reasons as to why maple syrup is consumed is because it has a high antioxidant content. Antioxidants can be found in limited amounts in corn syrup and refined sugar. Moreover, agave nectar does not have the same amount of antioxidants as compared to maple syrup. The antioxidants found in this syrup are known to fight free radicals (these are cells that can lead to causing life-threatening diseases).
To gain the maximum antioxidant benefits from this syrup, opt for the darkest maple syrup grade instead of the light ones as they do not contain the same amount of important nutrients. The other sweeteners which are known to have antioxidants properties would be molasses, brown sugar, and raw honey.
Contains Manganese and Zinc
Even though the amount of nutrients in maple syrup is not as much as the nutrient content in other sweet foods like fruits, this syrup does contain some important minerals and vitamins. The most important ones being manganese and zinc.
Which manganese aids in the absorption of nutrients and metabolism, zinc has an influence on the immune system, causing it to become stronger so it can fight diseases and illnesses. These nutrients can be found in other foods as well, but this added benefit of maple syrup makes it better than other sugary options. It also has a small number of other nutrients like calcium, automatically making it a better option than other processed sugars.
Lower Levels of Glucose
The common thought would be “how can maple syrup keep glucose levels low?” Well, the answer is that it does not necessarily keep it low, but as compared to refined sugars, it keeps the levels lower.
Refined sugar is known to spike blood sugar levels that are crashed later on. As time goes on, this cycle leads to diabetes. On the other hand, when consuming maple syrup, the spike is smaller, causing the crash to be smaller as well.
However, this does not mean that you should consume this sugary syrup in large quantities on a daily basis. If you need something sweet, it is a better option than refined guards. On the Glycemic Index, maple syrup is lower than refined sugar by 10 points, making it a better alternative.
Bingeing on refined sugar will not only cause you to gain weight but it also leaves you feeling bloated and unhealthy. This effect is known as leaky gut syndrome. This usually occurs when the digestive tract is not able to absorb or digest the food you are consuming. Experts recommend solving this issue by eating less sugary foods, which is why maple syrup is the best option.
Using maple syrup as an alternative for refined sugars is the best option because it allows your digestive system to heal. Maple syrup can eliminate the leaky gut syndrome including feels of abdominal discomfort and fatigue.
Reduction in Inflammations
Inflammation is considered as the reason for many dangerous diseases including digestive problems and cardiovascular issues. Fortunately, maple syrup is one that has anti-inflammatory properties that has a chance to reduce the Inflammations in your system.
These Inflammations include heart issues and pain that are caused by arthritis. In contrast to maple syrup, sugars are known to increase Inflammations and trigger conditions that are caused because of it. This is the biggest reason why physicians recommend maple syrup over refined sugars, but both should be used in limits.
Fun Facts about Maple Syrup
Rich History (Just Like its Taste)
In addition to its rich taste, maple syrup has a rich history as well. The traces of this delicious syrup go all the way back to the 1600s when the populations present in the Northeast were boiling the maple sap to turn it into sugar. Now it has become a popular ingredient at grocery stores and farm stands. Moreover, it is being drizzled over pancakes and consumed as a natural sweetener in cooking and baking.
The Most Maple Syrup Producer? QUEBEC
Although North America is the largest producer of maple syrup, Quebec (a Canadian province that is situated north of Vermont) takes the crown for being the ultimate producer. Quebec produces 7,989,000 gallons of maple syrup each year. The runner up would be Vermont that produces 890,000 gallons each year followed by Ontario, then New York, and finally, Maine.
It Has Crazy Detox Abilities
Many celebrities, including Beyoncé, claim that maple syrup allows them to detox and aids in weight loss. They usually consume lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup mixed in water for 10 days straight to get the benefits of Detox.
The Grade you Choose Matters
As mentioned above, maple syrup is available in different maple syrups grades. It is categorized as Grade A, Grade B, or is graded according to the color of the syrup. The darker the syrup is, the most robust its flavor will be.
There are Maple Syrup Seasons
Maple trees start getting tapped or pierced for their syrup around late February, during the peak of spring or in early April. If the wintertime is warmer than average, syrup farmers become worried because as the trees start to bud, the quality of the sap goes downhill. But, if they tap too early, the chance of excreting good sap is at risk.
The Amount of Sap in a Bottle is Unbelievable
Forty gallons of maple sap is equal to just one gallon of maple syrup (this is what is usually sold at the grocery store or at your local farmers market). In order to make this sweet, dense syrup that is available commercially, it is important for the sap to be boiled down to a sugar shack. In this process, the liquid gets evaporated fully.
It is Not Possible for All Maple Trees to Produce Sap
There are 13 different species of maple trees that grow in the United States and Canada, but not all of them are tapped for syrup. The trees that are unable to produce sap would be black maple, red maple, and sugar maple. However, maple trees are not only important for their ability to produce syrup. Baseball bats and bowling pins are often made with the maple tree wood.
Many People Prefer Pure Maple Sap Over Maple Syrup
In South Korea, there are people in a few communities that drink unprocessed maple sap right out of the tree. In some areas, it is a century-old tradition to drink gallons of maple tree sap in one sitting. These individuals also believe that sap tapped for, the gorosoe maple tree can prevent diseases like osteoporosis and diabetes.
There Is A High Possibility That The Syrup In Your Pantry Does Not Have Any Maple Sap
There are cheaper maple syrups that are available that do not have any amount of maple sap in them. Instead, they use maple flavoring to give a subtle maple syrup taste. A good thing is that there is a way of telling these maple syrups apart from the real ones. Purchase a bottle of pure maple syrup and compare the two. You will easily be able to see the difference in color and flavor.
As a maple syrup lover, this is everything you need to be informed about. Maple syrup is a truly one-of-a-kind syrup that has benefits and great taste. For many people, this syrup has become the go-to choice, one they simply cannot go a week without. If you are an individual that enjoys indulging in this rich, dense syrup, make sure you are consuming it carefully. Too much can lead to health issues.
Lastly, if you ever plan on going to North America (especially Canada), do not forget to indulge in “authentic” maple syrup. Opt for maple syrup on your waffles or your pancakes. That is where you can get the ultimate maple syrup experience.