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The best easy-to-find maple syrup

  • Soop Feb 20, 2009 02:23 AM
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Hey guys, my friend is in the states (Oregon) and hopefully stocking up on supplies for me ^__^

Can I ask what the nicest maple syrup is that you can buy in a supermarket? (i.e. quite common) I quite like smokey, and just FYI, I hate honey in all its forms.

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  1. I think as long as your friend buys a Grade B syrup, and it's real maple, you'll be fine. I'm not expert on "gourmet" maple syrup, but I think you'd be pleased no matter what. Oregon isn't exactly maple syrup territory anyway.

    1. I just got an 8oz. bottle of Trader Joe's brand grade A maple syrup (light amber) for like $8.
      Costco has their brand- a 32 oz grade A *(dark amber) for $18.39.

      11 Replies
      1. re: monku

        Oh, so it's graded?

        1. re: Soop

          There's a whole section on grading here, too much to try and re-type when this does just as good. Grading section starts about 1/2 way down. Darker is better in my opinion but that's just me. You also say "smokey" and that leads me to believe that you want a darker product as well.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maple_syrup

          1. re: HaagenDazs

            Thanks HD, that was interesting. With all that in mind, it's strange that the lighter flavours seem to be rated higher than the darker flavours.

            The last stuff I had was about £3, and i was surprised how runny it was. It was definitely proper maple syrup though, I bought it from Fresh and Wild (a whole foods market in the UK that sold only organic produce - I think).

            The stuff I could get now is canadian maple (haven't checked it out in detail yet) and costs £4.99! Though maple syrup is great, I'd consider it a lot of money for something used so occasionally.

            Plus my last maple syrup went missing, and I'm pretty sure I'd only used half of it... (flatmates)

            Is there anyone here who would deliberately get a type B maple syrup?

            *edit* Feel my pain, fellow hounds, feel my pain T__T
            http://www.sainsburys.co.uk/yourideas...

            1. re: Soop

              I always get the grade B syrup. The grade B has much more depth of flavor. I think people are sometimes equating cost with flavor, and here that just isn't the case.

              And real maple syrup does tend to be far more runny than the fake stuff.

              1. re: HaagenDazs

                I like grade B better as well. I find grade A very light in flavor.

              2. re: Soop

                I suspect that when the grading system was set up, maple syrup was valued as a sweetener. As with sugar and flour, light color and light flavor were valued as refined and upscale qualities. Now we want stronger and more complex flavors, along with a vague notion of being more natural and healthy.

                I wouldn't associate 'smoky' with maple syrup, in any grade.

                Maple syrup is normally runnier than other ones. That is especially true if your standard for a syrup is golden syrup (invert sugar syrup). The sap could be reduced further (all the way to a dry sugar), but that would just increase the cost.

                Trader Joes is the best option for a flavorful (grade B) syrup at a reasonable price. They have multiple stores in the Portland area. A natural foods coop might also carry it in bulk, but then the bottle wouldn't be factory sealed and labeled.

                1. re: Soop

                  I always get type B--I like the flavour better.

                  Fortunately, my inlaws are retiring in VT, and their neighbors give them at least 1Gallon per year. Best kept frozen for longer term storage.

                  You may want to look into getting some maple or "Indian" sugar, which is the syrup boiled down into dry grains. In VT, it's $5 for a 6oz (weight).

                  Before the inlaws moved, the discounters such as Marshall's and TJ Maxx would carry maple syrup in their kitchen sections.

                  1. re: Soop

                    Soop - I always get the Grade B from a U.S. store, Trader Joe's. I agree with HaagenDazs - MUCH better maple flavor. Whatever you do - stay away from anything that is "maple flavored". There is no comparison.

                    And keep in mind that the cost will fluctuate depending on the previous year's harvest. Maple trees need warm days and cold nights to get the sap flowing - without that fluctuation in temperature in the late winter/early spring, the production will be less, so the costs go up.

              3. re: monku

                Trader Joe's Grade B maple syrup is excellent. I buy in the tall thin bottle -- I want to say 13 oz or so for $13.

                1. re: Amuse Bouches

                  I just finished off a bottle of it last week. Lasted me 2 years, think it was around $8 back then.
                  Looking today at our TJ's, they have a good variety of maple syrup.

                  They're promoting pure maple-agave syrup in the new Fearless Flyer, (cheaper alternative to all maple syrup ($3.29/8 oz)...Anyone try it ?

                  (FROM THE FEARLESS FLYER)
                  Organic Maple Agave
                  Syrup Blend
                  Walk into most big supermarkets and you’ll find a number of
                  products labeled “pancake syrup” or “maple-flavored syrup.”
                  Here’s a little secret you may not have known: rarely, if ever,
                  do these products contain any real maple. If you’re looking
                  for a more affordable alternative to 100% maple syrup, you
                  don’t have to settle for the artificially flavored stuff. There’s
                  a great-tasting new alternative in town, one made with all
                  natural, organic ingredients.
                  Trader Joe’s Organic Maple Agave Syrup Blend is a
                  blend of organic pure maple syrup, organic agave nectar
                  and organic evaporated cane juice. That’s it. It’s sweet, but
                  not overly sweet, and it’s an excellent match for breakfast
                  classics like pancakes and French toast. It also tastes great
                  over ice cream or frozen yogurt. And it lends a distinctive
                  maple flavor to baked goods, too.
                  Best of all, it’s priced at $3.29 for an eight fluid ounce bottle,
                  a great value for this all natural, organic product.

                  1. re: monku

                    At first that sounds like a pretty good deal, especially as an alternative for those who are use maple flavored corn syrup, but if you do the math its $13.16 a quart (32 oz). Just yesterday I bought a quart of grade B maple syrup at a local health food store for $16 & change...for the couple extra bucks, I think I'll stick to the real thing personally & if I want a thicker syrup, I mix up my own using a dark agave syrup+sugar+real maple syrup, like I have for the last few years.

              4. Light or dark, A or B....just has to be real maple syrup. I mainly use it in my oatmeal.

                1. Real maple syrup is definitely more expensive than fake ones here in Oregon - it might be different back East. It is worth the investment though, even for something that isn't used often.

                  11 Replies
                  1. re: tracylee

                    Oh no, it's more expensive anywhere compared to the fake stuff (Log Cabin, Aunt Jemima, etc.). That's why there IS fake stuff - because it's cheaper.

                    1. re: HaagenDazs

                      Sorry, had to say something grade a, b or c, who gives a "s*ht.. Sorry, if it takes good I like it. I don't like fake syrup but my son does so I eat it and guess what ... I survive just fine and another fact, it tastes good too. For cooking, I do use a good syrup, natural, I care less what it is or where it came from. I don't have enough time in a day to go running around to find the best syrup. I buy a natural syrup from my store and you know what. It is great. I use log cabin for my son and me with waffels ... I'm not picky or really care about brand names ... it tastes just fine for a waffel. But for quality cooking ... absolutely use a good fresh natural syrup. Sorry if I am outspoken, but I just don't see the point or the over reaction to some simple condiment which shouldn't get this many responses.

                      1. re: kchurchill5

                        Hey, if I'm gonna pay £5 for something, I'm gonna make sure I get stuff that tastes good

                        1. re: kchurchill5

                          kchurchill5, with all due respect, while it's your right to not give a shit about this "simple condiment" or any other foods, giving a shit, and discussing it, isn't overreacting; on the contrary, such discussions are the very POINT of Chowhound. We're all here because we're passionate about good food. We're not all equally passionate about all food or the same foods, but to have decided opinions about any given thing isn't an overreaction. The more responses about any kind of food or place to eat the better - it means more info for everyone to draw on regarding the things each cares about.

                          Myself, I have different taste in syrup than you. First choice, grade B maple. Second choice grade A maple. No third choice. I'll put jam on a pancake rather than use fake syrup. You don't have to give a shit like I give a shit, but there's nothing wrong with either.

                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                            Maybe if you read her thread you'd understand her point of view.......
                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/597432

                            1. re: monku

                              Hey, she's entitled to her point of view, but for what it's worth, I had pancakes yesterday, with b-type syrup, and it was absolutely delicious. Perfect for what I had in mind, and I wouldn't have had that without this thread.

                              So thanks to everyone who posted for making my pancake day the best one I've ever had :)

                              1. re: monku

                                I understand her point of view generally, but I don't think it's applicable in this case. She chose to read and respond to a thread where the topic was the BEST maple syrup. Not "what can I use for syrup" but a request for the BEST *maple* syrup.

                                I think the discussion is perfectly appropriate, and if she doesn't find it interesting or relevant to her, she doesn't have to participate. BTW, if she'd paid attention, she might have learned that the grades A, B and C aren't about how fancy it is, but relate to the *flavor* of the product, so actually, if you're interested in maple flavor (and why else would you use maple syrup) you should give a shit about the differences between the grades, especially since cheaper grades actually have a stronger maple flavor.

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  I might agree with you, but a few minutes after her post, she made a similar comment on another thread. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/598269

                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    The discussion is completely appropriate. Good, inexpensive Maple Syrup is what the poster was inquiring about - how could grades of Maple Syrup NOT enter into this? If another poster doesn't care about what kind of syrup they're using - I'm not sure why they'd reply to a post asking for information regarding the product.

                                    Personally - I go for Trader Joes B grade - it's what my budget can handle and it's pretty good.

                              2. re: kchurchill5

                                In conjunction with Caitlin's post, there was no overreacting going on. Perhaps the number of posts (potentially church-y's view was overreaction) was to help others who didn't know quite as much on the subject, find exactly what they were looking for.

                                And for a "chef" I thought you might want to know that "waffels" is actually spelled: waffles.

                                1. re: kchurchill5

                                  kchurch, excuse me, but *I* give a sh*t re: the grading. Grade B maple syrup has a deeper depth of flavor that I prefer. If only Grade A is available I will, of course, use it. But I prefer Grade B.

                                  *You* might not get the point as to why this many responses regarding maple syrup showed up, but others do. If you don't, then perhaps you shouldn't reply to something you think isn't worth your time.

                            2. Gotcha, I just didn't want to make sweeping statements about places I'd never shopped :D

                              Oh, and to add to my post, I've never had a problem finding real maple syrup in regular grocery stores, so OPs friend won't have trouble getting ahold of some. I just don't know about brand names off the top of my head - I could check when I go home for lunch today and see what it is we're using.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: tracylee

                                I don't know the names of the brand name real
                                maple syrups. Last year a 32 oz. Bottle at Costco was around $8.

                                1. re: monku

                                  A traveller coming over from England is not necessarily going to have a Costco membership, however they may have friends here who do. Just a thought. I don't have a membership these days, and got mine either at Fred Meyer's or Roth's.

                                  1. re: tracylee

                                    Maybe the big Wally Worlds with food stores would have real maple syrup at a decent price. No membership required.

                                  2. re: monku

                                    Yeah I got it at BJs for about that price and then was mad when I got home and realized it was A grade. Maple syrup is way up this season but who cares, as long as it's strong!

                                    1. re: coll

                                      If you want a strong syrup, find rawest sugar you can, and dissolve it in just enough water. Mexican piloncillo is easiest to find, but I've also seen blocks from Columbia and else where (raspadura, panella). Indian jagery would be an option in the UK. Flavors aren't the same as with maple, but they have a similar complexity. Simmering it with some fenugreek seeds might add a bit of maple character (artificial maple flavor is made from fenugreek). Cinnamon is often used to flavor raw brown sugar syrup (using a stick or two of the true thin-bark cinnamon).

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        Cane sugar (sometimes referred to as Sucanat--SUgar CAne NATural) is divine. Not a substitute for maple, but it has the most incredible flavour. It has more of a molasses flavour that isn't as "pristine" as white sugar, so one uses less. But it is so good. The basic stuff from any Caribbean island is so much better than brown sugar (molasses re-added to bleached white sugar) or plain white sugar.

                                        Now I feel like a snob. I like real food but have been purchasing sweeteners and salts which require less use than in traditional recipes, but they're so much better!

                                2. Sam's Club also has "Grade A Dark Amber" maple syrup at reasonable prices.

                                  The easiest place to find Grade B maple syrup - and I agree that this would probably be a better choice for the OP - is probably Whole Foods. I believe they carry both Grade A and Grade B in their own house brand.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: nsxtasy

                                    Same for Trader Joe's - house brands grades A and B, and at better prices than Whole Foods - if the OP's friend has access to Trader Joe's.

                                  2. I get it in my parents backyard here in Quebec. I know they are blessed with a "sugar bush" and do the whole sugaring off parties starting in the next week or so.
                                    Let me know if I can help.

                                    1. hello soop
                                      i feel your pain about overpriced maple syrup. here in Quebec, the holy land of maple, the lowest-priced can is 8.99$ (roughly 5£). it is really ridiculous!! it is because of two really bad years in the maple industry (weather-wise).
                                      so I am jealous of bigfellow!

                                      1. Thanks for your help guys, I ended up getting waitrose own brand when I saw it. There were two, one was A, one was B, so I got the B. I haven't tried it yet, but Tuesday is pancake day! And I found somewhere that does buckwheat too!

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Soop

                                          the only smokey syrup I have ever had is the stuff I made when I was 8 or 10 over an open fire pit, the stuff had all kinds of ash and junk in it, my mother put on the table and ate it with a smile.
                                          alisium
                                          Same thing here in Vermont with the price. This must be what they refer to as "sticky pricing" ha ha, once the price limit is pushed up you tend to see it stay up even though the reasons it went up have reversed. I have to say though you just have to have the real stuff. the fake stuff just makes me cringe. We have our annual maple festival in April, as I live in the county that produces the mosts maple syrup in the US, but pales in comparison to our friends north of the border.

                                          1. re: jscott65

                                            I've recently learned that NY and NJ also have sugar maples (in Brooklyn, it was odd seeing the maple leaf at all of the parks--we incorrectly thought that that was particular to Canada!).

                                            We're going to a sugaring festival this weekend in NJ. Where in VT would you recommend the maple festivals? We have relatives in Strafford.

                                            1. re: Caralien

                                              Caralien,
                                              It depends how far north you want to go. Up here where I live in the county that makes the most maple syrup in the US there is a large festival in April. There are all sorts of activities that weekend. Look for the St Albans Maple Festival in St Albans Vermont

                                        2. Mrs. Butterworth's has a great bottle.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: filth

                                            :) As do the Land O Lakes butter packages, many of us grew up with.

                                            1. re: filth

                                              Log Cabin used to have a nice tin can. I noticed that Log Cabin now offers a 100% pure maple syrup.

                                            2. Soop--we went to a tapping event this past weekend at Howell Farms. Basically, you find a sugar maple, drill a 1.5" hole at 7/16", put in a plug, and attach a 2.5 gallon bucket with a cover. If it's below freezing at night and at least 45F during the day, the bucket will fill--completely. A good maple syrup is 40:1--reduced to 40x smaller (40 gallons liquid=1 gallon syrup).

                                              In the meantime, you tend the fire and make sure the sugar house doesn't burn down (Howell doesn't use a sugar house, and in VT, there are a few which burn down each year; it reminds me of the bbq places which burn down for the same reason).

                                              So Soop, if you can import or get some sugar Maples in the UK, you might be able to do this on your own. My husband and I are entertaining the idea of scaring his parents by doing this up at their place in VT. They're already scared by my use of a crock pot to render down a stock, so this would be something new and potentially frightening to add if we were to visit during the winter!

                                              -----
                                              Howell Living History Farm
                                              70 Woodens Ln, Lambertville, NJ

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: Caralien

                                                They do the same sort of thing with cane and sorghum in the American south
                                                http://www.syrupmakers.com/
                                                in addition to cane growing areas throughout the world.

                                                1. re: Caralien

                                                  That's a really good idea! but... no garden.

                                                  let me know if you do this though

                                                  1. re: Caralien

                                                    Back in school I had a friend from overseas who absolutely WOULD NOT believe me and my friends when we told her where maple syrup came from. It is still one of the funniest conversations I've ever had in my life.