Taste Test: Maple Syrup

For Christmas my aunt and uncle, with help from my sister, sent me a bunch of assorted items they picked up around town. One thing my sister picked up was a bottle of 100% maple syrup from Trader Joe's (which we don't have around here). I've been wanting to buy some real maple syrup for a while but thus far my wife has balked at the price which is at least 4 times as much as the corn syrup + artificial flavoring kind. The question then has to be, is the flavor worth the added cost? Naturally, a test test was in order.

Since flavors from pancakes, french toast, etc. can add to or mask the flavor of the syrup I decided to taste them on a spoon. I had about a teaspoon of each. Due to a risk of spilling the viscous liquid, I wasn't able to randomize the spoons but in the end it didn't matter much. The difference was readily apparent.

The artificially flavored syrup, this one from Great Value (Walmart store brand), was sweet and had a nice round flavor. I suppose I would describe it as maple although to that point in my life I had never tasted real maple flavoring. The Trader Joe's syrup, on the other hand, had an extremely rich set of flavors. There was not just one. There were a hundred flavors hitting my mouth at the same time. It was quite pleasant. It didn't seem quite so sweet. That's probably due to the corn syrup in the artificial syrup. It had some vanilla flavors, even some coffee flavors. The range was just extraordinary.

It's going to be difficult (to say the least) to go back to the plain stuff. I'm not sure how or if I can do it. This real stuff was, well, really good.


1 Comment

There is no turning back

There is no turning back from maple syrup to that horrendous goop they call syrup.

I grew up with homemade artificial syrup. My mom would boil water, add sugar and some maple flavoring, and pour it in some kind of syrup dispenser. It was runny, but tasted sweet and somewhat mapley. Well, really it doesn't taste much more like real maple syrup than the stuff you buy at the store, but it doesn't taste artificial either. If you don't like runny, you can add more sugar and/or boil longer to get to the consistency you want. If you can't go back to the goop but the real deal is too expensive for your budget, you can try that out. Maybe you'll like it.

Our homemade syrup was nothing like the real maple syrup, but we felt that it was lightyears ahead of the goop. Incidentally I'll point out that for a time we lived in Michigan and had maple trees, and we tapped them and made our own maple syrup. Hours of work for one breakfast. :-) So we know the difference.

When I got married, my wife had never really experienced anything but the goop (bless her heart). She wasn't really amenable to our little concoction, mostly being put off by how runny it was. And of course she balked at how expensive real maple syrup is. I don't remember how it happened, but somewhere along the way we got a bottle or two of real maple syrup and now it's all we get. Of course, we don't have 7 ravenous kids. When we were visiting family a bit back she commented to me that this store bought goop was disgusting. The conversion is complete.

There is nothing quite so disgusting as fluffy pancakes and artificial maple goop. Fluffy pancakes is another topic entirely - maybe I'll blog about it someday.

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