Author Topic: s/o syrup reserve - what brand do you like?  (Read 737 times)

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joraemi

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s/o syrup reserve - what brand do you like?
« on: December 04, 2012, 06:48:23 PM »
I confess -  I have Aunt Jemima pretend maple syrup in my cupboard.

BUT it's because any time I have tried real maple syrup it's been awful.  I have had real stuff that I liked exactly once, and my hostess couldn't remember where it was from and didn't have the original container anymore.

So please help me find an awesome brand of real maple syrup!  I like organic stuff too, so any and all suggestions are welcome! Also any suggestions on why some tastes better than others would be great too - I don't understand how I could have possible had so many bad experiences with something like maple syrup!

Thanks!




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blue2000

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Re: s/o syrup reserve - what brand do you like?
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2012, 07:05:41 PM »
It may be the grade of syrup you have tried. Very light syrup has a mild flavour, dark syrup has a much stronger maple flavour. If it is the maple taste that you dislike, try buying the lightest bottle you can find. Different countries/producers have different grading systems, but something labelled Light, Extra-Light, Fancy or AA should be a good bet.

Happy tasting! :)
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joraemi

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Re: s/o syrup reserve - what brand do you like?
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2012, 08:15:51 PM »
It may be the grade of syrup you have tried. Very light syrup has a mild flavour, dark syrup has a much stronger maple flavour. If it is the maple taste that you dislike, try buying the lightest bottle you can find. Different countries/producers have different grading systems, but something labelled Light, Extra-Light, Fancy or AA should be a good bet.

Happy tasting! :)

Soooo - which one tastes the most like the fake stuff?  Light or dark?  ;D




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Kaypeep

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Re: s/o syrup reserve - what brand do you like?
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2012, 08:26:12 PM »
My boyfriend received a bottle of maple syrup as a holiday gift last winter and we're still trying to finish it, as we don't eat pancakes or french toast too often.  It's tasty, but I love butter so I like the flavor of butter AND syrup on my breakfast.  For that reason, I also have a bottle of Eggo Waffle Extra Butter flavor syrup.  I know it's 'fake' but I like the taste of that, too.

doodlemor

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Re: s/o syrup reserve - what brand do you like?
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2012, 08:36:03 PM »
I usually buy the supermarket brand, either TOPS brand, or Wegman's.  I think that they both say "pure maple syrup" on them.  The bottle in front of me right now says "US Grade A dark amber."  Often times the bottles say that some or all of the syrup is from Canada. 

Since we live in a rural area, I sometimes buy syrup from the sugar bush down the road.  You might find delicious stuff at a farmers' market where you live.

Here is a recipe for maple cake for motivation and inspiration.

Maplenut Cake

4 T butter
1/2 C sugar

1/3 C maple syrup
2 eggs, beaten

1 C flour
1 t powder
1/2 c chopped nuts

1/4 C cream or milk

Mix this the regular cake way.  Put into a buttered and floured 8 or 9 inch pan.  Bake about 25 minutes or so at 350 degrees.  Don't overbake.

Double this for a 9 x 13 pan.  I might have done 1 1/2 times the recipe for a 9 inch springform pan, but I didn't write that down, so I don't know for sure. 

Glaze:  1 C confectioner's sugar, mixed with approx 1/4 C maple syrup

JenJay

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Re: s/o syrup reserve - what brand do you like?
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2012, 08:46:03 PM »
Grade A is sweeter and Grade B is richer, it reminds me of molasses. I can substitute grade A for sugar in my coffee and not taste a difference (but I like strong coffee) whereas I notice grade B.

blue2000

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Re: s/o syrup reserve - what brand do you like?
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2012, 10:17:14 PM »
It may be the grade of syrup you have tried. Very light syrup has a mild flavour, dark syrup has a much stronger maple flavour. If it is the maple taste that you dislike, try buying the lightest bottle you can find. Different countries/producers have different grading systems, but something labelled Light, Extra-Light, Fancy or AA should be a good bet.

Happy tasting! :)

Soooo - which one tastes the most like the fake stuff?  Light or dark?  ;D

LOL! At a guess I'd say the light, but I don't know. I haven't had the fake stuff in years. :P
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Slartibartfast

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Re: s/o syrup reserve - what brand do you like?
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2012, 01:14:26 AM »
Try a sample pack!  Maple syrup works rather like apple juice/cider or molasses - the lighter kind is super-filtered and tastes less strong, and the darker kind tastes stronger because it has more of the natural impurities in it.  Most people like the lightest type of maple syrup (Grade A Light), and that's the kind you usually find in the store.  I find the darker kind is a bit like sharp cheese - I do like it, but not every time and a little bit goes a long way.

blue2000

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Re: s/o syrup reserve - what brand do you like?
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2012, 08:21:23 AM »
That's a great idea! :D
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JenJay

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Re: s/o syrup reserve - what brand do you like?
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2012, 10:02:44 AM »
This website has good descriptions of the different grades AND links to buy directly from farms in VT.
http://www.vermontmaple.org/grades.php

Outdoor Girl

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Re: s/o syrup reserve - what brand do you like?
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2012, 10:26:16 AM »
I can only speak to the Ontario rules:

Extra light is very light in flavour and colour.  Light is a little less so.  Medium would be the closest in colour and flavour to the fake stuff, IMO, with a somewhat stronger flavour and darker colour.  All of these are considered Grade A.  Amber is very dark and has a very strong flavour.  Sometimes the flavour is a bit off because the buds on the trees have opened or the sap was kept a long time before boiling.  In Ontario, this cannot be sold as table syrup.  It is considered Grade B and is only supposed to be used for cooking.  Also, in order for it to be called syrup, it has to have a density of 66.5 to 68 on the Brix scale.  This is a measure of the sugar content.  So any syrup you buy should contain roughly the same percentage of sugar.

We have a theory:  It is bacteria in the sap that gives you darker colour and stronger flavour.  The faster you can boil it down, the less the bacteria have a chance to act and the lighter the syrup is in both colour and flavour.  Normally, we have trouble making anything but light or extra light, since we are a small operation and everything is as clean as it can be.  The larger producers will sometimes hold sap for a longer period of time and they have tubing strung between the trees and that allows the bacteria to work.  There is no concern that there will be bacteria in the final product - it boils for a really long time!
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o_gal

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Re: s/o syrup reserve - what brand do you like?
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2012, 10:29:30 AM »
And if you have access to sugar maple trees that are of sufficient size to tap, you can make your own. It's a fairly easy process but it is time consuming. We made so much the last few years (we can tap 3 trees) that we didn't make any last year. Was probably good that we didn't even try, because the weather in western OH was wacky and I doubt we would have gotten good sap/syrup.

Supplies:
Something that you can use a a stile - DH bought some copper pipe fittings at Lowe's that were narrower at one end.
Food grade plastic tubing - DH also bought this at either Lowe's or Home Depot
Plastic gallon milk jugs - clean them out very well. We rinse with a light bleach solution, then rinse afterward
Regular household gas grill
A shallow pan
Something you can use, like a small net on a handle for catching fish, to get scum off the top of liquid
Coffee filters
Candy thermometer
Saucepan

Pound stile into tree, then attach tubing, then run other end of tubing into milk jug. Do this when the weather is starting to get close to sap run time - it runs best when temps at night are below freezing and temps in the day are in the 40's (Fahrenheit). When the sap run is ideal, you might be switching out jugs multiple times a day. Check often - when one jug gets full, switch the tubing to the next jug. Save the filled jug in a cool place. Don't save it too long - if you don't boil it down within a few weeks, it will go hard.

When you have all the sap you want (1 gallon of syrup requires 40 gallons of sap), set up your grill with the shallow pan on top. Pour sap into the pan and get it boiling, then sit and watch it. Then you have to sit and watch it, and watch it. Use the candy thermometer to measure the temperature as it boils. You MUST do this outside your house, particularly if you have wallpaper on your walls  :) Use something to scoop scum off the top as it boils. Add more sap as you go along - this will reduce the temperature briefly but you'll get used to it. Keep boiling until your syrup mixture reaches about 200 to 210 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point, it will be looking like syrup but it's not ready yet.

Filter your syrup through the coffee filters, into the sauce pan. For this last bit, you can be inside but there will still be quite a bit of steam. Put the candy thermometer into the pan and get it boiling again on the top of the stove. You have to boil it until it's 218 degrees. When it gets close, WATCH IT LIKE A HAWK! There's a magical point where it reaches 218 and all of a sudden it will foam up and if you're not watching, it will boil over.

Then voila! You have your own strategic reserve of maple syrup. If you end up making multiple batches through the season, you'll see that the early stuff is close to grade A - light colored and mildly flavored. As you get more into the sap run, it will produce a darker, more strongly flavored syrup. Stop collecting sap when the trees begin to bud. We've been told that it will be off in taste ("buddy" syrup) but we've used the last sap collected successfully even if we don't catch it for a couple of days after budding.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: s/o syrup reserve - what brand do you like?
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2012, 10:38:10 AM »
o_gal, that's a really good description for DIYers with a few trees.

Two small points, though.   :)  The thing that goes in the tree is called a spile.  You can buy ready made ones at a lot of smaller hardware stores in areas where syrup is commonly produced.  And the temperature you should boil to is 8F above the boiling point of water.  At sea level and average atmospheric conditions, water would boil at 212 so you would boil the syrup to 220.  What we do is when the syrup gets to about 215 or so, we boil a pan of water and take the temperature.  Low pressure and elevation will allow the water to boil at a lower temperature.  It is commonly boiling at 210 in our area so we do take the final product to 218.

For someone making syrup just for themselves, 218 is probably close enough.  And the pan can boil over *before* it gets to the syrup stage.  And you really, really don't want that to happen.  Trust me.

If anyone has one of those contraptions to deep fry a turkey, that makes a really good syrup boiling pot, too, for someone with 10 trees or less.
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Tea Drinker

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Re: s/o syrup reserve - what brand do you like?
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2012, 11:34:46 AM »
We like the ones that taste strongly of maple, so I get Grade B syrup from a farm that turns up at my local Greenmarket (it's "Wood Homestead," but I don't know whether they sell other than at farmer's markets and maybe their own farmstand).

If you like the ones that taste more like supermarket syrups without much maple, you might want grade A. Or you might want to skip maple syrup altogether--there's no point in paying extra for a flavor you don't actually like, and real maple syrup costs more than blends or entirely non-maple syrups.

Another thing you might want to experiment with is other flavored syrups: for example, my girlfriend recently got a ginger syrup, which is simple syrup (a mix of plain sugar and water) flavored with ginger.
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CLE_Girl

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Re: s/o syrup reserve - what brand do you like?
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2012, 11:39:40 AM »
For normal everyday use (oatmeal, waffles, pancakes, ect) I like Log Cabin.  I have bottle of the real stuff in my fridge for baking.  It's my local grocery store's high end organic brand (Giant Eagle Market District).  I don't remember them having different grades, so it's whatever grade is "standard" or common.