Maple Syrup: The Perfect Condiment When You Are Having Breakfast For Dinner

Recently, I received an email reminder that the maple season is about to begin. Every year, my family enjoys a pancake breakfast at the local farm. They open up the sugaring shed to the public and hold demonstrations detailing the process it takes to produce this breakfast staple.

How to Choose The Best Maple Syrup | Foodal.com

We have been lucky to participate in hands-on sugaring programs where we learned about the steps taken from tapping the trees, to collecting the sap, to boiling it down. At these events, I have been able to sample different sweet treats, including maple syrup cotton candy.

Tapping Maple Trees for Sap | Foodal.com
Maple trees are tapped in the winter for their sap that actually flows in the Spring.

 Although not required, most United States varieties are assigned a grade. Grade is typically determined by color, and to some extent, by flavor. Some factors that affect grading is sugar content of the sap, what point in the season it was harvested, and the rate of evaporation. During a trip to Vermont, I was able to attend a maple syrup tasting. I was offered samples of each grade in order to figure out which one was my favorite. 

Boiling maple sap to reduce it to syrup | Foodal.com
Depending on sugar content of the sap, it takes 40 -50 gallons of maple sap to make to gallon of syrup at a 2% sugar content. The sap is traditionally reduce in big iron kettle over a wood fire.

US Grade A Light Amber

Ferguson Farms 100 percent Pure Vermont Maple Syrup - Grade A Fancy Light | Foodal.com

Foodal recommends Ferguson Farms 100% Pure Vermont Maple Syrup, Grade A Fancy Light

This is also known as “Fancy Syrup” and is the highest grade available, making it the most expensive. This variety is generally produced early in the season, when the temperature is cooler. Higher temperatures contribute to sap fermentation, which contributes to the characteristics of the other grades.

US Grade A Medium Amber

Foodal recommends Coombs Family Farms 100% Pure Organic Maple Syrup, Medium Amber

This variety is darker and has a stronger maple flavor than the light amber. Medium amber is an all purpose product, used to top pancakes and waffles. Some people even use it in place of chocolate sauce on top of an ice cream sundae.

US Grade A Dark Amber

Foodal recommends Brown Family Farms Pure Maple Syrup, US grade A Dark Amber

This deep colored syrup is very strong and features a deep caramel color. Like medium amber, it also can be used for all of your table needs.

US Grade B

 

This dark, richly flavored variety is primarily used for baking and is also known as “dark robust.” It is the least expensive type available.

Hidden Springs Organic Vermont Maple Syrup, Dark Robust, 32 Ounce

Grade is an important factor to consider when purchasing maple syrup, but you should use your personal preferences as your guide. Sample a few varieties to determine which variety meets your needs.

When serving pancakes or waffles, warm your syrup so it thins out a little. This will help it to go farther, plus it is so much nicer to enjoy on top of a hot breakfast.

homemade waffles with maple syrup | Foodal.com

My children love making homemade waffles. Sometimes, they even request to have breakfast for dinner. Light and fluffy, these waffles are a family favorite.

Homemade Waffles | Foodal.com
Homestyle Waffles
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Homemade Waffles | Foodal.com
Homestyle Waffles
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Servings
8 Waffles
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8 Waffles
Ingredients
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Servings: Waffles
Units:
Instructions
  1. Preheat waffle iron.
  2. Beat eggs in large bowl.
  3. Stir in flour, milk, vegetable oil, sugar, baking powder, salt and vanilla.
  4. Wipe down waffle iron with vegetable oil or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  5. Pour mix onto hot waffle iron.
  6. Cook until golden.
  7. Serve with maple syrup, whipped cream, or fruit.
Recipe Notes

Homemade Waffles | Foodal.com

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About Jennifer Swartvagher

Jennifer is an experienced journalist and author. Her work has been featured on TODAY Parents, The New York Times Blog, BlogHer, Scary Mommy, and scores of other parenting and cooking publications.

27 thoughts on “Maple Syrup: The Perfect Condiment When You Are Having Breakfast For Dinner

  1. Very informative article! Funny, I always thought maple syrup was more of a Canadian thing (I’m from all the way in Asia) and that there was only 1 type. Something which I sometimes do when I make pancakes or french toast is to mix a little syrup INTO the batter itself (not too much because you don’t want it to burn) and it always turns out really delicious, especially served with some melted butter and extra syrup on top.

    • I love that idea! I want to make pancakes this weekend and try putting syrup into the batter. I’m ridiculous when it comes to maple syrup. I will drink it straight. So this idea has me salivating! Thanks! And thanks Jennifer for the great article! Although don’t hate too much on Grade B… it is my favorite! 🙂

  2. Ah yes, we always try to get our share of maple syrup and in fact it’s almost become a staple in our home. Though my family and I are a few miles away from Canada we still love the thing. It’s a richer, more flavorful substitute to honey in my opinion.

  3. I love maple syrup when buying it I buy the best. I’ve tried cheap brands, and I find it just doesn’t deliver. I will pour tons of this thick sweet treat on my pancakes with an ample amount of butter as well.

  4. I was fortunate to live in Vermont where they made maple syrup and some trees nearby were tapped. Waffles and maple syrup are great comfort foods during winter anytime of the day. Prices between maple syrup does vary and he best place to get then are coops, where you can get local and fresh syrup.

  5. I didn’t even know that maple syrup had seasons! And it wasn’t until recently that I realized maple syrups have “grades” (which can explain why I got so confused when I went to my local Trader Joe’s to get maple syrup and realize there are different grades).

    My husband and I sometimes have “breakfast for dinner” and I totally agree, whether you have waffles or pancakes you MUST have maple syrup with them! I’ve tried to do it with honey instead of the syrup and unfortunately, it isn’t the same 🙁

    • Maple season is just getting underway in Upstate New York. I have a yard filled with maple trees and I am tempted to try and tap them to see what we get.
      While honey, especially spreadable honey, is a great topping on toast, I have never tried it on pancakes or waffles.

  6. I have to admit something to you guys: I do not care for maple syrup. Now, it may just be a matter of having terrible experience with the syrup I’ve tried thus far in my life. I love berry syrups or other flavours but just not maple. Never experienced the different grades & never tried it when it was ‘in season’. That might be my next attempt: Maple tastings.

  7. What a great write up and so educational at the same time.

    I too had not appreciated that there were different grades of Maple Syrup, or that it was even processed after being extracted from the tree. I guess I should have done really, given that silver birch sap is so runny and thin as well. But I had no idea that so much sap was needed to produce so little syrup!

  8. Here was me thinking maple syrup only came from Canada! I’m in the UK though and it’s not quite as popular here. It tends to be used only on pancakes or as a glaze for ham. I enjoy it though and would like to see it served more often.

  9. I’m originally from Massachusetts, although I live in Texas now. I was shocked to discover, upon moving here, that many people use corn syrup on their pancakes and waffles, rather than maple syrup.

    Maple syrup was a staple in our house growing up, and I pretty much love all things maple. I even prefer penuche over most chocolate fudges. My dream is to one day do the maple syrup experience you mentioned. Thanks for the information about the grades. I knew there were grades, but not specifics of each particular one. The waffles look delicious, too!

    • Wow, I had never heard of putting corn syrup on pancakes and waffles.

      I agree with you. Maple penuche is delicious.

  10. I love maple syrup! I eat it with most sweet things I eat, since it mixes well with mostly everything. I try to buy it from reputable brands since I’ve noticed that the cheap brands don’t have the same taste.
    Also seeing as this recipe looks tasty, I might try it and maybe switch some things up a little bit!

    • Indeed, real maple syrup is far better in taste and quality. It tends to be more expensive, but that’s because it is so much better. In my area, it can be tough to find, except for certain times of year. One little store I know does a big sale on it once each year, so that’s the time to grab it.

      Having breakfast for dinner is fun, and offers a nice change of pace. I liked doing it once in a while when the kids were little, and they really enjoyed it. I sometimes eat breakfast foods for dinner now, since I have never really been a breakfast in the morning person, but these days, it’s usually only when I’m just making something for myself.

      • I love having breakfast for dinner too! I don’t tend to eat in the morning anyway, so it;s always nice to have these “morning” foods at a more convenient time!

  11. Maple syrup is something i haven’t had the privilege of sampling and i’d be eager to…currently stuck with honey and only recently opened my cupboard doors for the latest visitor in town; blackstrap molasses, tastes heavenly on my pancakes…i’ll have to look up maple syrup at the grocer’s hoping it doesn’t cost an arm and leg!

  12. I had no idea there was so much more to maple syrup than what I actually knew. I thought there was only one kind of maple syrup so this article is very interesting to me. Also, what a smart idea, putting maple syrup into the batter it sounds delicious! Cant wait to try it this weekend!

  13. The maple syrup in out country is terribly expensive and not always available, but this does sound lovely and a much better product than making your own. I make my own syrup as I try to avoid processed and preserved, store bought foods as much as possible. These look like products I would buy because they are natural.

  14. I grew up on real syrup. Whenever I go to a breakfast dinner and get “maple” syrup it’s just not right!
    I love using the medium grade as a salad dressing! 3 parts oil, 1 part vinegar and 1 part syrup.

  15. Okay, you’ve officially convinced me to move my maple syrup from the fridge to the cupboard. I don’t know why I even kept it there in the first place! Warm syrup is clearly superior.

    As a Canadian, maple syrup is near and dear to my heart. Actually, my favourite bread recipe calls for maple syrup as a sweetener. This was a really great breakdown of the different types. Bread isn’t typically what I’d recommend any of the ‘light’ grades for, but for the other grades of syrup, I’d highly encourage everyone to try substituting maple syrup for sugar. You get such a more textured and interesting taste, but it’s not too sweet to use for sandwiches. Yum.

  16. I too have yet to try out maple syrup, but only because the stores where I live either won’t sell it or they have the sugar free version. If I have to go on Amazon to get a bottle of pure syrup, then that is what I’ll have to do…after I finish off the honey I’m currently holding of course 🙂

  17. Growing up in the north east my family only bought local grown maple syrup. It makes such a difference compared to store bought bottles. My family is also a big believer in supporting local shops. Every fall we would go up to Vermont for a weekend and stock up for the year.

  18. Maple syrup has got to be one of my all time favourite condiments…it’s wonderful to cook with too, but I’ve never heard of using it in bread! I’m going to try that for sure, I love baking bread from scratch so it’s a perfect fit 🙂 I live in Canada and a lot of my family are Quebecois, so whenever we go back East to visit we make sure to bring home a few bottles of local syrup and it’s so yummy!

  19. Maple syrup is a must have in our house. We have family in Vermont and that means near constant supply of the good stuff. Our weekend brunches have taken to having syrup covering our breakfast sausages along side our buttermilk pancakes cooked in the waffle maker. My younger brother adds maple syrup to everything he eats! Having never seen the process used to make the good stuff, I am amazed at it. So primitive but so effective. I imagine the maple tree sap must flow pretty slowly when the time is cold. That’s a rather different take on “a watched pot never boils”

    Thanks for the great article

  20. I had no idea that there was this such of variety when it comes to maple syrup, that explains a lot of things, I really need to take this on count the next time that I buy some of it. Waffles are one of my favorite things to eat on breakfast, it’s simple, classical and of course, delicious if you know how to cook them, I love adding some cinnamon to the recipe, it adds a different touch to them.
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  21. Interesting to see that the grading system the US uses is not much different from the Canadian one. Personally I think the dark ambers are more flavorful than the light and prefer to use those for everything.

    I’ve had maple syrup from a friend’s sustenance farm and it was very very dark with a smoky aroma from the wood fire they used to condense it. It was nothing like any of the commercial farms which I’ve never noticed to have any unique flavors.

    Some people don’t like maple syrup and I can understand that, but I really hope they tried real syrup and not what the Quebecois call “sirop de poteau” (literally: “syrup from a pole”, as in, tapped from a telephone pole). Aunt Jemima’s and other pancake syrups are in this category. Restaurants that serve breakfast almost always have sirop de poteau on the table and not the real thing. If they actually serve the real thing, it will come in a thimble.

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