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Oh Maple Syrup, How I Love Thee. Let me Count the Ways.

Posted by Rhonda Santos, APHIS Public Information Officer in Animals Plants
Feb 21, 2017
MDAR Maple ALB Poster
Poster created by the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture to promote maple syrup and stop Asian longhorned beetle.

Okay, yes it’s Maple Syrup Day, an unofficial holiday, but the day allows us to celebrate and recognize this often underrated commodity. So in honor of this lovely product, here are some interesting tidbits that you may not know.

I use maple syrup on many things; not just pancakes, waffles and French toast, but also in recipes like soups and casseroles, to sweeten granola or oatmeal, even coffee. I’ve used it on ice cream and even snow, on salads and in salad dressings. My own step-father is known to take a shot of maple syrup every now-and-then. It is delightful on its own. Maple syrup can also be used to make maple cream, maple sugar, and maple candy.

Maple syrup being poured over pancakes
Maple syrup being poured over pancakes.

Did you know that sugaring dates back to the 1500s? By the 1700s both Native Americans and European settlers were making syrup. It wasn’t until the Civil War when tin cans and metal spouts were introduced that the maple syrup industry was born. The University of Vermont offers more on the history of Maple syrup online, but in the northeastern region alone, maple syrup production totaled almost 3 million gallons in 2015. According to a report by the National Agriculture Statistics Service, Vermont remained the top “Maple State” in the region and in the nation. Actually, on my way back home from spending Thanksgiving weekend in Vermont, I picked up a booklet about maple syrup created by the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association and I learned that:

  • Maple syrup has more antioxidants than raw tomatoes, cabbage or cantaloupe;
  • It has a lot more nutritional value than honey, brown sugar, white sugar, and corn syrup;
  • And all the grades of maple syrup can be of equal quality; it’s just matter of taste.

I prefer the very dark color syrup as this has the strongest flavor, but you can start with the lighter varieties and work your way to more robust flavors. In March the USDA introduced a new grading system, United States Standards for Grades of Maple Syrup, to make it easier for producers to market their syrup and clear up any confusion for consumers. So find which grade is right for you and enjoy! And since I work for APHIS and I am originally from Vermont, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you to check your trees for signs of the Asian longhorned beetle because this non-native insect threatens all of our nation’s maple trees.

A maple leaf
Picture of a maple leaf from a maple tree.
Category/Topic: Animals Plants

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Amy Beals
Dec 17, 2015

Thank you so much for this post!
I too am a Maple Syrup nut and a native Vermonter.
My 2nd favorite use of the amazing darker grades is on Baked Ham with pineapple slices. My family requests it all the time!

robert dowling
Dec 17, 2015

great little article, I am the type that will read further. why is it not an official holiday, as it goes back in some form to 1500s and impacts high number of American lives and a whole region of the us (northeast). from nyc whole life, but since kid, have gravitated to northeast amybe close proximity and/or relatives and/or working summers. thank you.

Lisa Jackson
Dec 17, 2015

There is a very interesting account and photos of how maple syrup was produced in "the old days" in the book "Little House in the Big Woods" (part of the Little House books series). It is a fun, educational read for children and adults alike!

Dr. Tim Perkins
Dec 17, 2015

Great story....thanks for posting it.

Kaliunis Fernandez
Dec 17, 2015

Maples in all seasons are great statements of beauty. This blog is a nice way to remind us to protect native timber wherever in the world we live, and Maple Syrup is a sure way to encourage more salad and fruit eating for health, and yes, maple syrup over sauteed carrots is a treat! Thank you.

Tim Ritchie
Dec 18, 2015

Sit down to Maine wild blueberry waffles with Vermont maple syrup and Delaware scrapple. Is this a great country or what?

Dec 18, 2015

I'd love to get a copy of that poster to hang in our office!

Sharcy Wieczorek
Cadillac, MI

P. DuBois
Dec 21, 2015

Thank you for this wonderful post on maple syrup! Many years ago when my kids were still very young, my wife convinced me to spend the extra money on 100% real maple syrup rather than buy the stuff that's basically "colored high fructose corn syrup". I'm so glad we made that choice. Reading this post reaffirms my decision to never go back to Aunt Jemima again.

Dec 23, 2015

Great article!

Leticia Andrews-Cox
Dec 31, 2015

This was very informative. I am always finding recipes that call for maple syrup. Plus I knew that it had manganese which is great for stabilizing blood sugar levels, but I had no idea about the rest of the benefits. Thank you for the post.

Jan 28, 2016

Crepes with maple syrup has been a Sunday morning ritual for a very long time. Thanks for the nutritional information.
I did not know about the antioxidants. Great article!