Though many of us associate maple syrup with the autumn months, it’s actually early spring when the sap begins to flow. So all this month, maple trees throughout the Northeastern states are being tapped to cultivate the thick, sweet goodness that we call maple syrup.
The process will continue over the next few weeks when the sap is boiled until most of the water evaporates, and it eventually becomes the concentrated syrup we know. During this time, the chemical changes that occur will develop the color, flavor, and nutritional benefits of the syrup.
First discovered by the Native Americans and early European settlers in the mid 1500’s, maple syrup has come to be an American household staple. Best known for being drizzled over a hot stack of pancakes, or used to naturally sweeten baked goods, maple syrup can be found in pantries throughout the country.
In the United States, maple syrup is divided into two major grades, Grade A and Grade B, and Grade A is further divided into three subgrades: Light Amber, Medium Amber, and Dark Amber.
Grade A syrup is produced early in the season and have a lighter color and milder taste. Grade B syrups are produced much later in the season, and therefore have a darker color and more robust maple syrup. While Grade A is usually used to sweeten up your pancakes and waffles, Grade B is more commonly found in cooking and baking recipes, as well as in the Master Cleanse.
In addition to flavoring your breakfast and baked goods, maple syrup has some pretty sweet health benefits! Although many people believe that Grade B syrup is richer in nutrients, you will tap into some major nutritional benefits with whichever grade you choose.
1. High in antioxidants: Maple syrup provides the body with over 50 types of antioxidants that help to ward off diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
2. Rich in nutrients: High in iron, manganese, and zinc, maple syrup helps keep your heart and immune system healthy.
3. Healthy alternative: Maple syrup is often used as a healthy alternative to white sugar, stevia, and agave syrup. It is less likely to cause gas and bloating than artificial sweeteners.
When purchasing maple syrup, it is important to look for a brand that is 100% pure maple syrup – organic is always best. Grocery store shelves are often littered with syrups that contain high fructose corn syrup and other artificial ingredients. While these brands are less expense, it is essential to spend a little extra in order to reap the nutritional benefits of pure maple syrup. Like I always say…”You get what you pay for.”
What’s your favorite maple syrup way to use maple syrup? Share in the comments!