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The best easy-to-find maple syrup

Soop Feb 20, 2009 02:23 AM

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. HaagenDazs RE: Soop Feb 20, 2009 05:00 AM

    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. monku RE: Soop Feb 20, 2009 05:10 AM

      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
        Soop RE: monku Feb 20, 2009 05:21 AM

        Oh, so it's graded?

        1. re: Soop
          HaagenDazs RE: Soop Feb 20, 2009 05:35 AM

          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.


          1. re: HaagenDazs
            Soop RE: HaagenDazs Feb 20, 2009 05:58 AM

            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

            1. re: Soop
              HaagenDazs RE: Soop Feb 20, 2009 06:06 AM

              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
                scubadoo97 RE: HaagenDazs Feb 22, 2009 12:56 PM

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

              2. re: Soop
                paulj RE: Soop Feb 20, 2009 08:07 AM

                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
                  Caralien RE: Soop Feb 21, 2009 02:08 AM

                  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
                    LindaWhit RE: Soop Mar 9, 2009 12:59 PM

                    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
                Amuse Bouches RE: monku Mar 9, 2009 12:11 PM

                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
                  monku RE: Amuse Bouches Mar 9, 2009 10:14 PM

                  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
                    anniemax RE: monku Mar 10, 2009 12:44 PM

                    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. monku RE: Soop Feb 20, 2009 08:35 AM

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

                1. tracylee RE: Soop Feb 20, 2009 08:40 AM

                  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
                    HaagenDazs RE: tracylee Feb 20, 2009 08:42 AM

                    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
                      kchurchill5 RE: HaagenDazs Feb 23, 2009 07:56 PM

                      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
                        Soop RE: kchurchill5 Feb 24, 2009 12:26 AM

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

                        1. re: kchurchill5
                          Caitlin McGrath RE: kchurchill5 Feb 24, 2009 06:04 PM

                          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
                            monku RE: Caitlin McGrath Feb 24, 2009 06:39 PM

                            Maybe if you read her thread you'd understand her point of view.......

                            1. re: monku
                              Soop RE: monku Feb 25, 2009 12:23 AM

                              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
                                Ruth Lafler RE: monku Feb 25, 2009 04:37 PM

                                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
                                  monku RE: Ruth Lafler Feb 25, 2009 05:29 PM

                                  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
                                    wolfmonk RE: Ruth Lafler Mar 2, 2009 08:50 AM

                                    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
                                HaagenDazs RE: kchurchill5 Mar 9, 2009 11:48 AM

                                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
                                  LindaWhit RE: kchurchill5 Mar 9, 2009 01:01 PM

                                  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. tracylee RE: Soop Feb 20, 2009 08:49 AM

                              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
                                monku RE: tracylee Feb 20, 2009 08:59 AM

                                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
                                  tracylee RE: monku Feb 20, 2009 09:12 AM

                                  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
                                    yayadave RE: tracylee Feb 23, 2009 07:50 PM

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

                                  2. re: monku
                                    coll RE: monku Feb 21, 2009 12:15 PM

                                    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
                                      paulj RE: coll Feb 21, 2009 12:37 PM

                                      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
                                        Caralien RE: paulj Feb 21, 2009 02:04 PM

                                        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. nsxtasy RE: Soop Feb 20, 2009 09:58 AM

                                  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
                                    Caitlin McGrath RE: nsxtasy Feb 21, 2009 02:16 PM

                                    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. b
                                    bigfellow RE: Soop Feb 21, 2009 02:43 PM

                                    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. alixium RE: Soop Feb 22, 2009 07:18 AM

                                      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. Soop RE: Soop Feb 22, 2009 11:30 AM

                                        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
                                          jscott65 RE: Soop Feb 23, 2009 11:21 AM

                                          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.
                                          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
                                            Caralien RE: jscott65 Feb 25, 2009 03:45 PM

                                            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
                                              jscott65 RE: Caralien Mar 2, 2009 02:59 AM

                                              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. f
                                          filth RE: Soop Feb 24, 2009 02:24 AM

                                          Mrs. Butterworth's has a great bottle.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: filth
                                            Caralien RE: filth Feb 25, 2009 03:41 PM

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

                                            1. re: filth
                                              yayadave RE: filth Feb 25, 2009 05:10 PM

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

                                            2. Caralien RE: Soop Mar 4, 2009 05:14 PM

                                              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
                                                paulj RE: Caralien Mar 4, 2009 09:37 PM

                                                They do the same sort of thing with cane and sorghum in the American south
                                                in addition to cane growing areas throughout the world.

                                                1. re: Caralien
                                                  Soop RE: Caralien Mar 5, 2009 01:05 AM

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

                                                  let me know if you do this though

                                                  1. re: Caralien
                                                    mogo RE: Caralien Mar 9, 2009 09:22 PM

                                                    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.

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