Maple syrup is one of those guilty pleasures that has no substitute. Imagine, for instance, pancakes or waffles without it. That is bland and so absent of flavor!
Open just about any refrigerator, and chances are you will find a bottle of this delectable syrup. However, does maple syrup need to be refrigerated after opening? The experts shed light on this simple but essential issue that could either end up in syrup that lasts or spoils.
Types of Maple Syrup
There are many “grades” of maple syrup. Those differences would pertain to taste, texture, and flavor. However, to know how long maple syrup lasts, I can essentially classify this syrup in two ways. (Read Camping Food Ideas No Refrigeration)
Pure Maple Syrup and Maple Syrup
Pure maple syrup typically consists of 100% maple sap and has no other ingredients. It uses the sap of a sugar maple tree. At first, the liquid is clear and slightly sweet. To process it into the pure maple syrup found on store shelves, it goes to a sugarhouse where an evaporator boils the sap down into syrup.
Pure maple syrup is not the same as table syrup (often also called maple syrup). Table syrup is made of fructose or corn syrup with caramel coloring to mimic the color and taste of pure maple syrup. Hence, maple-flavored syrup, by contrast, is nothing but sugar syrup with added flavorings.
Indeed, there is no substitute for genuine, pure maple syrup. However, if budget constraints are an issue, table syrup or maple syrup is not a bad compromise at all.
Does Maple Syrup Need to be Refrigerated?
Here is the simple answer. Refrigerate maple syrup when you have pure variety. Table syrup or ordinary maple syrup, on the other hand, is shelf-stable and does not require refrigeration. This, however, should not stop you from keeping it in the refrigerator if you wish.
Pure maple syrup requires refrigeration once it is open. It does have a shelf life and needs to be in the refrigerator, especially if it is first-class 100% grade. I am guilty of making the mistake of not refrigerating a bottle, and it was a waste of an otherwise delightful bottle of sweet pleasure.
My Unpleasant Syrup Experience
I took my cherished bottle of pure maple syrup not long ago and poured it on freshly made pancakes. As I was preparing to stuff my mouth full of this yummy breakfast meal, I happened to glance at the bottle. I noticed a yellowish-gray mold. This was my unsavory experience, and I made sure it never happens again!
Some syrup aficionados have some advice when it comes to molds. They say boiling the syrup mildly then skimming the surface is effective. Once done, pour the syrup into a fresh container and refrigerate.
When You Can Leave Pure Maple Syrup on the Shelf
Unopened pure maple syrup can last almost indefinitely. Once you open it, refrigeration becomes necessary. If you want to be on the safe side like me, I refrigerate my pure maple syrup bottles even when they are still sealed.
If you have faith in storing unopened bottles on a shelf, make sure you have a cool, dark place. For long-term keeping and to retain the robust flavors, they say a freezer works wonders. Take note that pure maple syrup will not turn solid in cold temperatures.
Syrup Options for Camping
I have safely brought both pure maple syrup and table syrup on many of my camping trips. Since these trips are typically short (often a few days at most), my syrups never spoil. They are a great additive to non-refrigerated meals such as vegetables, granola or waffles, and pancakes.
To manage backpacking food weight, bring a small bottle or container that you estimate is just right for the trip. Pure maple syrup bottles tend to be thick and heavy. Pack smartly so you can enjoy the delightful syrup that can elevate so many food options.
The Nutritional Value of Pure Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is abundant in antioxidants. Antioxidants fight free radicals, which can lead to a host of health issues. Typically, darker syrups have higher amounts of antioxidants.
This syrup also contains important vitamins and minerals. Among the notable ones are manganese (for energy), zinc (for immunity), calcium (for bone and teeth strength), magnesium (for heart health), riboflavin (for a healthy metabolism), and potassium (to fight high blood pressure). (Read What to Bring on a Hiking)
As a natural source of sweetness, pure maple syrup is also great for those struggling with high blood sugar levels. They give you a smaller sugar spike, lessening the damage and even improving digestion. Taken in moderation, it is far better than simple sugars.
Be Wary Of Inexpensive Varieties
If you want to enjoy both the robust flavor and health benefits of pure maple syrup, be sure to read labels correctly. Although not necessarily harmful, your syrup might not have any maple at all. I made that rookie mistake many times in the past but have since become better at reading labels. (Find the Best Backpacks Camping)
Again, they forewarned that many maple syrups in the market do not contain maple sap in them. What they have instead is maple flavoring to imitate maple syrup taste. However, a side-by-side comparison will reveal genuine differences between the two if you have the real deal.
I love maple syrup. The flavors may vary from pure varieties to simpler pseudo versions, but the experience is never disappointing. Depending on your demand, budget, and purpose, maple syrup will fit your gastronomic palette.