Tap into the Sweet Benefits of Maple Syrup

Those flannel-loving, snowshoe-wearing men and women of Vermont and Canada - they are on to something. Something good. The rich, clean and caramel noted flavor of maple syrup that slowly drips out of those taps from those maples can't be beat.  And, not just for pancakes. Maple syrup does so much more. It can enhance savory dishes as well as provide some nutrients for our bodies, too.

Why To Choose Maple Syrup as a Sweetener

Here is why I reach for maple syrup when I need that hint of sweet:

Maple syrup has zero additives. It is barley processed at all. Table sugar is highly processed. The less processed of anything, generally, the better.

Minerals like manganese, potassium and zinc are found in this elixir.  Vitamin B2 can be found in maple syrup, too. Pretty nice for a sweetener.

Maple syrup is just as sweet as sugar, but it is lower in calories.  So maybe a fewer rep or two at the gym to burn off that meal, perhaps? I find I use less of it than I would sugar as it has so much flavor.

The smooth syrup makes a great start to a yummy glaze or savory pan sauce.  Add a bit of garlic, chili flakes and a splash of your favorite vinegar and you have yourself the beginnings of a great sauce for a great meal.

Maple syrup can make a liar out of a sweet potato or squash "hater." Drizzle a bit of maple syrup on sweet potatoes, carrots or butternut squash, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper and roast.  Squeeze some fresh lime juice on it after and I think that hater will forget all the back talk.

Most maple syrup is organic. Most syrup is tapped in forests where no pesticides have been applied. Check the label though.

Who Makes the Grade

Sorry, Aunt Jemima. You didn't make the grade, here. Those bottles of REAL maple syrup on the shelf with all the grades, colors, labels, etc.- is a tad confusing. But it boils down (excuse the pun) to this: maple syrup is graded by both color and flavor. But the grade has nothing to do with quality. Instead the grade has to do with when the syrup was tapped.

The lighter the color of the syrup, the earlier in the season it was tapped.  The darker, the later it was tapped.  Lighter syrups have a delicate flavor while the darker syrups, the richer and more pronounced maple flavor.

Grade A has three sub-divisions:
  • light amber
  • medium amber
  • dark amber
Grade B has the richest flavor and highest mineral content of all the syrups. Many prefer it for dishes wanting a stronger taste of maple like with a barbecue sauce. Try this grade B and see if you like it for the added nutrients.

And, a bit later, I will post a recipe or two featuring this natural sweetener!

collage: photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/chiotsrun/4376048098/">Chiot's Run</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">cc</a>
tree: photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/chiotsrun/5488990730/">Chiot's Run</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">cc</a>
trees-photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lunaspin/3321953033/">looseends</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>


  1. Love, love, love maple syrup - it has so much going for it! Great article, especially the really concise explanation of the grades and colors of real maple syrup. I've gotta remember the suggestion of using Grade B for things like BBQ sauce - good idea! I usually have Grade A amber around, but your suggestion about how to use Grade B really got me thinkin' ... :D

  2. Grade B is a bit harder to find. (Hopefully, you don't have to go to Canada to get it though, although what a beautiful country! :) If you see it, give it a pour and let me what you think!


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