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 maple trees can’t be beat. And, not just for pancakes. Maple syrup has so many benefits. It can enhance savory dishes as well as provide some nutrients for our bodies, too.
BENEFITS OF MAPLE SYRUP AS A SWEETENER
Here is why I reach for maple syrup when I need that hint of sweet:
1. Maple syrup has zero additives.
It is barely processed at all. Table sugar is highly processed. The less processed of anything, generally, the better.
2. 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.
3. 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.
Don’t miss this: Here is another sweetener you should try too that has health benefits.
4. 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.
5. 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.
Don’t miss this: Have a brussels sprouts hater on your hands, too. Follow this recipe contest winner to undo that!
6. Most maple syrup is organic. Most syrup is tapped in forests where no pesticides have been applied. Check the label though.
Don’t miss this: Some other organic foods you really should know about.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN BUYING MAPLE SYRUP
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 these main points:
1. Color and flavor make the grade.
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. See point number 2.
2. The color indicates the tap.
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.
3. Grade A has sub-divisions.
Grade A is broken down into 3 groups:
- light amber
- medium amber
- dark amber
4. Go with Grade B for higher nutrients.
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.
Do you use real maple syrup just for pancakes and waffles or do you cook with it other ways as well? What is your favorite way to use it?