How To Know If Your Syrup Really Has Maple In It

People who grew up in the Northeast know all about maple syrup snobbery. As a kid, you may have tasted the pure stuff from your classmate's family farm down the street, so you know, Mrs. Butterworth's doesn't quite live up to it. Northeasterners are syrup aficionados because the top producers of maple syrup are of course in Vermont, which produced 1.5 million gallons in 2021, followed by New York with 647,000 gallons, and Maine with 495,000 gallons (via Statista). According to Wisconsin Public Radio, these states are ideal for producing maple syrup because their weather aligns with the ideal conditions for sap collection, as daytime temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures below freezing are best for harvesting.

If you're not a Northeasterner who has maple syrup supremacy in your veins, chances are you may enjoy "pancake syrup" instead. According to a Google Customer Survey panel (via The Chicago Tribune) that asked Americans what they prefer on their pancakes, 25% of respondents said they prefer real maple syrup, while the other 75% preferred pancake syrup brands like Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth's. If you're looking to separate from the crowd and get your hands on real maple syrup, however, there's a pretty easy way to find it at the grocery store.

The ingredient list in maple syrup says all you need to know

According to My Recipes, pure maple syrup is just maple sap that's been boiled down, so if you want the real stuff, that should be the only ingredient listed on the bottle. Pancake syrup, on the other hand, is often made with high-fructose corn syrup, caramel color, and maple flavoring. While the fake stuff can do the job when added to pancakes, pure maple syrup is recommended when a recipe specifically calls for it as it tends to be sweeter and thinner than the other stuff, which could really affect the outcome of baked goods or other recipes.

One of the reasons Americans largely prefer the imitation is because of the price point. According to My Recipes, bottles of fake syrup are typically under $4, while pure bottles start at $8 for 12.5-ounces. Pancake syrup also has a longer shelf life because it contains preservatives and can last 18 to 24 months after opening. Pure maple syrup, on the other hand, should be used within a year once opened. At the end of the day, it comes down to what your family prefers, but who knows, maybe the real kind will surprise you and become a new household staple.