>> Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Back when we dined in blissful ignorance on HFCS-containing foods, our favorite syrup was Log Cabin. The first ingredient in Log Cabin's list at the time was HFCS. So, we switched to pure maple syrup. I am happy to report that Log Cabin has since removed HFCS from it's syrups, but we've stuck with real maple syrup even though it is more expensive. (If you're avoiding HFCS, read those ingredients! Most artificial maple syrups still use HFCS.)
Using real maple syrup has its advantages. First, it isn't nearly as viscous as Log Cabin and the other artificial maple flavored syrups, and with the thinner consistency a little maple syrup goes a long way - and that's a good thing because it's expensive! Second, did you know that maple syrup actually has some health benefits? It contains a ton of manganese and zinc - two trace elements and natural antioxidants that are good for your health. It's also loaded with calcium - the same amount as whole milk! That just blows my mind - in a good way. Of course, hopefully you're not consuming a glass full of maple syrup, but it is nice to know that it's in there. Last, it has fewer calories than corn syrup. (Though it doesn't have fewer calories than the "light" artificial maple syrups out there. That "light" designation often comes at a price, though, as the "light" syrups are often full of other artificial ingredients.) With all of that going for it, I can overlook the steep price, I suppose, and not feel so bad when we have a syrup laden breakfast.
You might think that maple syrup is maple syrup, but not so. There are different grades and different classifications within the different grades, and they all have different flavors. When we first switched to maple syrup, I was used to the more subtle maple flavor of the artificial syrups. The flavor of the Grade A Dark Amber real maple syrup that I could find in my grocery stores was too intense for my taste. With just a little digging, I learned that Grade B actually has a stronger flavor than Grade A, and that Grade A Medium Amber and Grade A Light Amber are most commonly used as table syrups. It strikes me as funny that Grade A Dark Amber is what I can find in grocery stores.
Amazon came to our rescue, as usual. We were able to order some Grade A Medium Amber maple syrup, which had a much less pronounced maple flavor that was just right. We have since come to enjoy a deeper maple flavor and now buy Grade A Dark Amber maple syrup. I won't lie, it is expensive. I buy in bulk (a gallon at a time either through Amazon or directly from the farm) and store the extra in my fridge to save money. A little goes a long way for us, so I don't feel bad paying the money for the real deal.
Just why is maple syrup so expensive? Maple syrup has not always been so expensive. Prices have gone up dramatically in the past five or so years. The increase in prices isn't a conspiracy by the maple syrup producers. We can blame the weather for the stiff increase. Maple syrup is produced from sap collected from certain maple trees. This sap collection depends on freezing cold nights and warm days. Recent warm springs have played havoc with sap collection. Add to this increasing demand for the real deal, and prices remain high.
Ah, well. I'm still content to be buying real maple syrup. The benefits outweigh the cost in my household.