If you’ve ever had maple syrup—the real maple syrup—you know those corn syrup knock-offs just can’t compare. Real maple syrup has a rich, complexed flavor with a balanced level of natural sweetness. The fake stuff? Super sugary and pretty bland in comparison.
With all of that fake syrup floating around, we tend to forget where the good stuff comes from. If you love real maple syrup, stick around. Here are 12 fun facts you never knew:
The maple syrup capital is canada, of course.
Vermont is the biggest U.S. producer of the sweet amber elixir with more than 890,000 gallons a year, but the U.S. pales in comparison to Canada’s production. More than 80 percent of the world’s maple syrup comes from Canada. Québec alone is responsible for nearly 8 million gallons a year.
Native Americans were the first to discover maple syrup.
Legend has it that Native Americans observed squirrels digging their teeth into trees to tap the sweet stuff inside. Natives made V-shaped incisions on the bark of maple trees to allow the sap to flow down into birch buckets before heating it with hot stones. With the arrival of European settlers, copper and iron kettles were introduced to the process which allowed the sap to be boiled at a higher temperature, resulting in syrup pretty close to what we know today.
Ben Franklin loved maple syrup.
He loved it so much that he campaigned for maple syrup to become the primary sweetener of colonial America in an effort to help make the country more independent from foreign imports.
It takes 40 gallons of tree sap to make a gallon of syrup.
Once the tree is tapped, the liquid is closer to the consistency of water. It takes a very long boiling to reduce it to the viscous syrup we’re used to drizzling on pancakes.
Maple syrup is shelf stable for years if unopened.
Honey wins the award for its infinite shelf life, but syrup isn’t too far behind. Left unopened your syrup can last a really long time. Once opened, crystallization can occur around six months. Still, crystallization is no big deal and can disappear if the syrup is heated (just like honey).
Maple isn’t just used for syrup.
It’s also turned into other maple products like butter or sugar. Maple butter isn’t a dairy product, but it gets its name because of its creamy consistency. Maple sugar can be found in lots of different consistencies, textures, and shapes (most commonly as shapes like maple leaves or Santas).
Craving maple syrup? Try this Overnight apple cinnamon raising fresh toast casserole.
It’s more expensive than oil.
A gallon of the good stuff, the real maple syrup, can be as much as 13 times the price of oil. Grade A natural syrup retails for about $32 a gallon. With that sort of price tag, you can be sure there’s a huge underground trade operation of the stuff, and the the government stages serious efforts to catch smugglers.
Maple syrup was the center of a huge heist not long ago.
In 2012 the largest agricultural heist ever took place with missing maple syrup at its center. Thieves stole 6 million pounds of syrup—a crop totaling $18 million. It took authorities months to even figure out how much was missing, but eventually everyone involved in the crime was caught, and two-thirds of the supply was returned to its rightful owners.
You can detect fake syrup using a freezer.
Syrup is produced in trees naturally to help trees protect their roots from the brutally cold Canadian winters, which means, if you have real syrup, it won’t freeze. If you place your syrup in the freeze and it goes bad, you definitely have a knock-off on your hands.
It’s full of youth preserving antioxidants.
Maple syrup has the same antioxidants as berries, flaxseed, and red wine. In fact, it contains 54 antioxidant compounds, which help protect the body against free radicals. So next time you’re making pancakes, top them with berries and real syrup for a healthy antioxidant boost to your day.
Also see, Slow cooker maple, pear oatmeal.