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Oct 18, 2012 10:31 AM

Substituting maple syrup for imitation

I am wondering if anyone has experimented with replacing real maple syrup with any of the imitation syrups for various dishes.

I would not use fake maple syrup for pancakes, french toast, etc., but am wondering if it is one of many ingredients if you can get by using the much cheaper imitation syrups.

I use maple syrup in things like a pork brine, sauces, bacon jam and things like that. I would imagine if it is a primary ingredient, you will definitely know the difference.

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  1. Imitation is usually corn syrup (regular and hfcs) with either a bit of real, or imitation flavoring (mapline). Usually it is thicker (more viscous) than regular maple syrup. In the case of pancakes, that means it stays on top, rather than soaking in right away.

    I doubt if imitation does much in a brine or sauce that sugar, or brown sugar wouldn't do just as well.

    1. Maple syrup carries the maple flavoring to the brine or sauce and little else. If it's sweetness you want I'd join chefj's team and just use brown sugar. If it's maple flavoring you want I'd use brown sugar and a touch of natural commercial maple flavoring.

      3 Replies
      1. re: todao

        It is really for the maple flavor. As you said, plain or brown sugar can make things sweet. I wonder how the potency/ounce compares to real maple syrup and if cost wise it is worth making the substitution with maple flavoring.

        1. re: michaeljc70

          buy some grade C maple syrup. I never go higher than B myself.
          grade C is pretty freaking potent.

        2. re: todao

          I think you meant Paulj. Though I do agree Brines are not the place for Maple syrup it would be a huge waste.

        3. I've tried subbing imitation for the real thing, for a maple mustard sauce, when I didn't have the real thing. I found the imitation made things cloyingly sweet. In hindsight, using brown sugar would have been a better option.

          1. I think brown sugar is generally a better sub. Real maple extract might be an option.

            Fake syrups having nothing in common with maple syrup except for the ability to be poured.

            2 Replies
            1. re: JudiAU

              From what I've read, maple has 100s of unique distinct flavors. I think that is why the fake stuff is probably a poor substitute.

              1. re: michaeljc70

                But is there a recipe in which all of those flavors are essential. In many cases maple syrup is just a sweet 'truffle', something that is added just to make the dish sound upscale, natural and/or expensive. They probably started with a recipe that called for sugar (e.g. a brine), brown sugar or molasses. In other cases they use a couple of Tbls of maple syrup, and expect us to taste the difference.

            2. My cooking skills are marginal at best, on a good day. But I would NEVER rat-fuck my dinner guests with inferior ingredients.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Veggo

                Well, I think the key is knowing when you can substitute and when you can't. Certain things can be substituted with no difference and other substitutions are drastic.

                Studies have shown there is no flavor benefit from organic.

                1. re: michaeljc70

                  there's plenty of flavor benefit from organic. but it's mostly from higher prices meaning lower-yielding varietals can be planted.