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Feb 4, 2005 01:54 PM

Best maple syrup … NY, Vermont, Canadian? Amazing history and recipes

  • k

On the SF board, the question came up about what was “organic Canadian Style Maple Syrup” being sold by a local store. One poster linked to the amazing article below that tells you everything you ever want to know about maple syrup.

It turns out there is NY, Vermont and Canadian maple syrup. The article says they are pretty much the same with the Vermont maple syrup having a higher sugar content than the New York variety making it a little more viscous (which in terms of maple syrup is a good thing).

Do you have a favorite maple syrup? Do you have an on line link?

The ONLY thing the article didn’t mention is why the store where I saw the organic syrup kept it in the refrigerator section. That’s why it caught my attention. I think of maple syrup that something you leave in the cupboard. Believe me, this store is no help in terms of answering questions. Anybody know why?

I grew up in Connecticut and went to college in Boston and I never know about the history and impact on America of maple syrup.

I never knew that during the Civil War, many people in the North stopped using sugar and substituted maple syrup as a protest against sugar produced by black slave labor in the South.

It seems the Native American gods were quite the nutritional police. The story is that the gods didn’t want it too easy to acquire sweetners, so that is why people had to work hard to get maple syrup. The Sinzibuckwud tribe would have had difficulty maintaining proper sugar levels in their diet without maple syrup. I should only have that problem.

Then there are some pretty amazing recipes using maple syrup from some of New England’s top restaurants. Each recipe includes a wine pairing, for example

Maple Financier with Maple-Glazed Bananas - wine suggestion Bonny Doon Vin de Glacier

Does that sound good or what?

The other recipes include:

Potato Gnocchi and Maple Glazed Endive

Apple Crumble With Maple Ice Cream

Maple Nougat Ice Cream with Pistachio Nougatine (garnished with gold leaf)

Maple Pudding and White Chocolate Mousse Tart

Citrus-Scented Maple Syrup Cod with Apple Cider Reduction (recipe includes pork bellies and micro celery greens)

Of course they also have the more simple and well know recipes like maple sugar, maple candy and sugar on snow. There are suggestions for using maple syrup on savory dishes like adding a teaspoon to cream soup.

Anyway great six page article below.

Now what was my question? Oh yeah, what is your favorite maple syrup?


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  1. The key thing about maple sugar is to look for Grade B. The grading process comes from the days when maple syrup was used instead of sugar, so bland maple syrup got the highest grading, as it was closest to cane sugar in taste. If you want a rich but even (as opposed to fake and imbalanced) maple flavor, you look for Grade B, which may be virtually impossible to find outside of syrup country.

    And maple syrup did not merely replace sugar; more importantly, it replaced molasses, which was even more linked to the Triangle Trade. That's the other reason (in addition to logistical convenience) why you have two different baked bean traditions in New England: the coastal areas tending towards molasses, and the interior (especially in the North Country) using maple syrup. Then there's the whole issue of which beans to use; I like Steuben yellow eyes more than navy/pea beans or soldier beans; I think Maine has the traditions to work with on baked beans.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Karl S.

      "look for Grade B, which may be virtually impossible to find outside of syrup country"

      I have never had a problem finding Grade B here in San Francisco.

      1. re: Pssst

        Trader Joe's carries several varieties of maple syrup, including organic, in an array of origins, styles and grades. And at very reasonable prices, as per usual for them.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler
          Krys Stanley

          This may not have been what Karl was talking about, but, article or no article, I have to say that the maple syrup in syrup country is better. Maybe the freshness has something to do with it.

          Taking Sunday drives to Vermont, some of the syrup was outstanding. It was the only place that I actually liked maple syrup candy in those decorative shapes.

          I had a link to an on line source for maple syrup that I lost. It had the time of year to order the syrup for maximum freshness. It also had samplers of various grades.

          Anyway, I may have just answered my own question about why Milk Pail keeps their organic syrup in the refrigerator ... I gotta think though that all maple syrup is organic. You get this from the middle of the woods after all.

          Next time I'm in Trader Joe's I'll check out what they have. Thanks.

          1. re: Krys Stanley

            I particularly like TJ's "Canadian producer of the year" (whatever that means) maple syrup. Even though the producer changes, I haven't found a maple syrup I like better.

            1. re: emily

              I was in TJ's today, and they seemed to be featuring the maple syrup. It was all Canadian, but the selection emcompassed regular in grade A in light, medium and dark amber, and grade B; organic in grade A dark amber and grade B. Among the labels were "nouvelle" which was identified as "first flow" (light amber); and two different "estate" maple syrups (both medium amber); there was also a maple syrup identified as being from Quebec (I think the rest were from Ontario). The estates and the Quebec were identified as 2004 harvest.

              I'd love to do a maple syrup taste test.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Thanks for looking, Ruth.

                Your post got me wondering about organic maple syrup again ... you DO want organic ... in fact, there is even vegan kosher organic maple syrup ... who knew?

                One Kosher syrup is produced at the only shomer shabbos organic, horse-powered farm in Vermont. That means the whole farm shuts down on the Sabbath. "One does not do any work, use electricity, drive, etc. It is a day of rest for people, animals, and the earth." They sell half-pint, L'Chayim (to life), size. Also kosher vegetable oil rather than cream or animal fat is used in the processing … ANIMAL FAT !!! ???

                The plot thickens …

                OH MY GOODNESS. I am SO sorry I looked this up ... maple syrup ... innocent little maple syrup ... trees, nature, L.L. Bean wardrobe, moonlight in Vermont ... there is a dark side that involves … formaldehyde, lead, animal fat … and … maple tree abuse,

                The link below tells about what to watch for in terms of sleazy maple syrup makers.

                Another site adds that Organic Certification assures you that only approved cleansers and antifoams are used. … CLEANSERS … ANTIFOAMS … I thought you stuck a tap in the tree, boiled the stuff and … voila … syrup. It seemed so simple, so innocent.

                Another place adds some forests are sprayed. Too many taps are put into trees and it kills them. The following link in PDF format expands on this.


                This is all so distressing. I need some pancakes. But first I will ask for the Nouvelle, vegan kosher organic estate bottled syrup vintage 2004 from the Quebec region.

                Since I live in SF, I know no one will blink and eye and it will appear on my table. Does Café Fanny make pancakes? … wait, I’ll ask that on the SF board.

                Darn you, Gary Soup, your question robbed me of my maple syrup naiveté.


                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                  Moshe Horowitz

                  There is an excelent maple syrup produced by K.E. Farms under the supervision of Kosher Technical Konsultants along with their other products. The products are all Parve and no dairy components are used to make any of the products.

                  As they say in the natural food industry, it is a "clean product."
                  I have provided a link to their site. Enjoy!!!!
                  The owner is informative, prices are reasonable and it is a top quality product.

        2. re: Karl S.

          I agree completely about Grade B maple syrup.

          Whole Foods carries Grade B syrup, including one with their "365" house brand.

          1. re: Karl S.

            i am a maple syrup producer and would like verify a few facts....first, all pure maple syrup must have the same sugar concentration by law so the theory that vermont syrup has more sugar than new york syrup is totally wrong...also, canada, vermont and new york produce more syrup but there are also other states that produce syrup..such as maine and massachusetts ...and as far as someones comment about grade b being superior to grade a , it may be a personal opinion, but it is not the general opinion which is why it is sold cheaper and in bulk to companies that use it in their fake is made toward the end of the season when the trees are almost done running and starting to bud and usually has a "buddy" taste that most people don't like...storing it in the refrigerator after it is open is not a bad idea, but i dont know why the store would waste energy on keeping sealed syrup cold....i like to keep mine in the fridge because it is a little thicker when it is cold...if stored for many months out of the fridge, it could form mold on the top from airborne contaminents after it's been opened...i just wanted to put my 2 cents in about this topic :)

            1. re: altmirj

              hi. i realize this is your first post, but somehow you managed to dig up a very old thread from 2005. it's always a good idea to check out more current threads on a topic because people learn more about a subject over time, and some of the folks on an old thread may not be around anymore to see a response many years later.

              my mom has done sugarbush for 25 years-- in minnesota, btw :) the north american sugar maple forests cover a lot more ground than some people think.

              1. re: soupkitten

                I think it's great when an old post is resurrected - I just read one about unusual flavored ice creams that started in 2007.

                Thanks for your "change" altmirj. My husband and I visited a sugar house in Vermont during Maple Syrup weekend in March of this year, and it was quite an unique experience. They had recently installed a boiler/evaporator and a reverse osmosis machine and had 10,000 taps. I had always thought all that "smoke" coming from a sugar house was smoke - not so!! It's steam from the evaporation process. 43 gallons of sap is boiled down to make one gallon of syrup. Our favorite syrup is grade A dark amber.

                IMHO EVERYTHING is better in Vermont :)

          2. I don't really have a favorite brand, because where my family lives (upstate on the Mass/Vermont border), it all comes in generic bottles with a sticker on it with the address of who made it. You can probably get it like that at a farmers market or gourmet store, just like local honey. I lived for a year or two in the Berkshires and right about now you'd see uncounted buckets and plastic milk containers, hanging from all the trees. All the firehouses and schools would start having pancake breakfasts with so and so's fresh maple syrup. I use it in everything when I bake rather than brown sugar or honey, I guess just because that's what I grew up with (in the 50s!). I'm glad it's so available now, even tho it's been so expensive since they had that big freeze about 5 years ago, and the price never came back down.

            1. Hey you forgot Ohio! What some folks don't realize is the northeastern portion of that state is quite a good region for production of maple syrup. I have never done a side by side tasting, but I would not hesitate to put it up against the best of what New York and Vermont have to offer. I don't know if this is a function of the large amish community here (some believe larger and more predominant than Lancaster, Pa.) or not.

              1. I found this sugar shack in Hadley, MA while visiting my Smithie daughter last spring. The syrup is excellent, especially the dark amber variety, with a deep maple flavor and not too cloyingly sweet. When I visited, sugaring was in full bloom. The trees all around were bejeweled with taps and buckets, and the aroma from the sugar house was incredible. If you're looking for a maple coma, this is the place. Boisvert's invites you into the boiling room, to watch the process, sample freshly made syrup, and explain the process (and answer all manner of questions). This is a small, family run operation, so no corporate tour here. Just the real thing. Link to their mail order store below.


                1. a

                  My favorite maple syrup is made in small amounts by friends in North Central Mass. and isn't commercially available. It's grade A fancy, and while it isn't all that "mapley" it isn't like anything else either. Amazing stuff, and at its most amazing in its first month. Good after that, but loses some of the almost floral aroma. In its first few weeks it's worth eating straight from a spoon. When I can't get theirs (some years there isn't enough) I look for a similar small local producer. I buy Grade B for when I want a strong maple flavor (mostly cooking--and for cooking I'm not all that picky about syrup).

                  I wouldn't keep sealed jars/jugs in the fridge, but I keep open ones there.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Aromatherapy

                    Here is a link about grades and types of maple syrup....seems like good info. My family also keeps syrup in the fridge after it is opened, but in the cupboard before we open it.

                    Dave M.P.