Eat Real Food {Maple Syrup}

Maple Syrup grades

photo credit: dougletterman

What do you normally eat – real maple syrup or the Aunt Jemima type pancake syrup?

If you’re like most Americans, Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth are what’s in your cabinets.

Recently at the grocery store, I headed down the breakfast aisle to check out a few of the bottles for myself. To my surprise, only one brand had any amount of real maple syrup in it. It was from the store brand and even though it was on the label, it was so far down in the list of ingredients, there wasn’t much in there. So what is pancake syrup made of? Basically corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup, plus a lot of other ingredients I couldn’t actually pronounce!

Not only is pancake syrup full of preservatives and corn syrup, it’s chock full of different flavors and dyes to achieve the right color and taste. It has no nutritional benefit, and while real maple syrup can’t be considered a ‘health food’ due to the natural sugar content, it does have a couple of benefits over pancake syrup.

  • It has Manganese, and important mineral for energy production and antioxidant defenses. One ounce of syrup includes 22% of your daily value.
  • It also contains zinc, which also fights free radicals as well as helping decrease the progression of atherosclerosis.
  • Both manganese and zinc also help support your immune system.
  • Zinc helps support the health of a mans reproductive system.
  • And best of all, it’s a real food! It’s made by the sap from maple trees. After the sap is collected, it’s boiled down until just the sugar content remains. When you buy real maple syrup, it hasn’t been chemically processed or altered, no food scientist has taken hours to find the perfect concoctions of flavorings, it’s just real food.

Maple syrup also has many other uses in the kitchen. I use it to sweeten different baked goods and I also use it in a 1:1 ratio with butter to brush over roasted sweet potatoes. It’s also good in oatmeal instead of using brown sugar, in those rare cups of coffee, and even in homemade ice cream. And while a diet high in any type of sugar (natural sugars included) isn’t good for you, maple syrup is a naturally good choice!

Making the switch from the junk food syrup can be difficult to swallow. I know. The price tag seems rather high. But I find that I don’t use near as much when I use the real stuff. Plus if you do some looking around or stopping by farmers markets in the summer, you can normally find it at a decent price. I spend about $10.00-$12.00 per quart. If you or your family members have a hard time with the taste difference, I would highly recommend switching over slowly – pour the maple syrup into the ‘fake’ syrup container, mixed with the processed stuff. My thinking is that it’s better to work slowly to real foods than have the entire family revolt and stop trying the new foods you make.

So do yourself a favor, check the back of your syrup bottle at home. If you don’t like what you see, it’s time to buy some food that hasn’t been processed beyond oblivion.

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About Donielle

Donielle is an amateur herbalist and natural momma to two littles (with another babe in heaven) after dealing with being less than fertile. She has a passion for nourishing nutrition, natural living, and spreading the word on how food truly affects our health.


  1. If you put jam on your pancakes or waffles, you need even less maple syrup, and not much jam, either. (Be sure to slather on the butter, though!) Huckleberry is my favorite.

  2. lizzykristine @ Uplifted Eyes says:

    We made the maple syrup switch when my husband started getting headaches after eating the fake stuff. :) We eat pancakes so rarely — and I don’t use maple syrup for anything else — that it isn’t a very painful expense. I think he was glad for the excuse to switch because the real stuff is so much yummier!

    The less you eat artificial foods, the more artificial they taste, eh? I can’t bear store-bought cookies any more. :)

  3. Serena, I should be putting jam on mine. That sounds fabulous – glad you brought that up! We do peanut butter every now and again for something different, but it just makes you thirstier. :-)

    And lizzy- you’re right. The less fake foods I eat, the less I can stomach them. I tend to get a really big craving for one of my old favorite foods (whether it’s packaged cookies, a donut, etc) and it never tastes the same or hits the spot quite right!

  4. Could you water down the syrup to make it go farther? I watched a show where they put people back in the early days and they watered down their honey to make it last longer.

  5. Wow I wish I could get maple syrup for 8 dollars a quart I will have to look for it this summer. it’s about that much for just 12 oz. at the grocery store. I had to get used to the taste at first but now I really like it!

  6. Yum! We love maple syrup. We have been trying to make the change in things to healthier, too. 😀

  7. Anonymous says:

    We love real maple syrup here, too. I like to put unsweetened applesauce on my pancakes/waffles/french toast/etc., then a little maple syrup or honey. Yum! Less sugar and delicious.

    Susan :)

  8. Darn you! I am so guilty of this!
    And it is the price tag that gets me.
    We eat so many pancakes and waffles (two teenagers) that I would go broke with real syrup. I do truly prefer real maple syrup though.

  9. If you live in the country and have lots of sugar maple trees, you might be able to get a couple gallons free in exchange for letting someone tap your trees. My parents do that and they always give us some of their free syrup. It’s a good deal for all parties concerned. :)

  10. I grew up making maple syrup so I can't stand the other stuff. Real syrup tastes a lot sweeter to most people than the fake stuff. Also since it is thinner, you don't need as much of it to get the same taste.

    Real syrup also has some calcium & other trace vit/min in it. It is still 33% water. If someone wants to water it back down further, you could, but just pouring on a bit at a time is also effective so you only use what you need rather than having a puddle left on the plate.

    American Spoon Fruit, made here in Michigan, is great on pancakes too and has no added sugar!

  11. I hate those commercials trying to sound like high fructose corn syrup isn’t that bad, it totally is! It’s sad the some people believe everything they hear on tv…

  12. For those who still drink coffee, everyone should try syrup in it just once as a special treat. The darker the grade, the better. SO yummy & nutty flavored.

    I use other sweeteners for most of my baking and cooking: basically any application where the maple flavor won’t come through. Even though I get my syrup for “free” (If you don’t count the wo-man hours put into it), I still cherish it and try to use it wisely. You never know when you’re going to have a season like last year where your stash is blown & the weather doesn’t cooperate for you to make enough to get through the year!

  13. LOVE real maple syrup. I bought a jar of it at a farmer’s market one time and never looked back. It tastes so much more . . . real.

  14. Heather says:

    I have always used the real stuff because the artificial tastes just plain nasty. I also like that the flavor is so good that you need significantly less than if you use the fake syrup. My husband was dead set on only eating the garbage syrup because he liked it better after having grown up with it. A year of only having the good stuff in the house and he’s become a total convert. He even asks when we eat out and will change his order if they don’t have real maple syrup. To keep it affordable I trade oranges for syrup with my mom. Living in FL we have a lot of friends and neighbors who have citrus trees. Most of them have so much fruit that they beg people to come it. I pick it and send it to my parents up north. In return she helps out a friend who produces maple syrup and gets paid in syrup, sending some down to us. Even factoring in the cost of shipping it saves us both money.

  15. But be careful when you are buying it, I’ve noticed they have started putting what they call “table syrup” is the same type of jug as maple syrup with the writting very small. Of course, if you look, “table syrup” is 4% maple syrup but mostly HFCS – tricky!

    Also, I grew up with maple syrup so I can’t stand the fake stuff but my husband needed time to adjust to the real stuff. He was used to really pouring it over the pancakes but you can’t do that with maple syrup or it is too strong. For about a year, I mixed half honey and half maple syrup. I slowly transition to a high and higher percentage of maple and now he likes it. Just a thought if you are having a rough time transitioning.

    donielle Reply:

    @Mackenzie, Great idea for the transition to use honey. And thanks for the tip on the ‘table’ syrup! I’ve been buying mine direct from someone who makes it so I never look at the store anymore.

  16. In order to make sure you get the real deal, buy bottles where the ingredients list reads “pure maple syrup” or “pure vermont maple syrup”. Some manufacturers have started trying to fake it. :(
    We bought a bottle from Amazon- grade B has a bit stronger flavor but more minerals and good stuff in it. We bought this one and it tastes great
    Do the subscribe and save option to get the price break and free shipping and then cancel the subscription after you order.

  17. Yum! We love real maple syrup. I think that was one of my first baby steps in transitioning to mostly real food – several years ago.

    We also like local creamed honey on/in things where we would normally use maple syrup.

  18. I just made the switch to real maple syrup in the last year – and several cashiers at checkout have commented on how expensive the syrup is! Guess they don’t see many people buying the real thing.

  19. I love real maple syrup and only get the grade b stuff now, but it’s SO expensive here. For a quart, it’s $40. And a lot of people won’t ship food stuff to Alaska (like Amazon) or if they do, it’s REALLY expensive to ship it (like over $20). I’m looking into getting it through our local buying club, though, which will cut the cost a bit. Everything up here is more expensive, but especially trying to get real food. You don’t get the kind of deals you can get in the states. Not even at farmer’s markets. Our grocery budget literally tripled when we moved back here from Idaho. Needless to say we’re excited to be moving again in a year. :)

  20. I prefer fresh fruit and/or whipped cream on my pancakes, but I do sometimes buy 100% maple syrup for our girls (they love it!).


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