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Stamford Museum & Nature Center via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
Stamford Museum & Nature Center via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

10 Things Made from Maple Syrup

Stamford Museum & Nature Center via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
Stamford Museum & Nature Center via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

The most common use for maple syrup is, of course, on pancakes, but there are plenty of other ways to use the sweet stuff. It’s a wonderful way to flavor and sweeten recipes, and maple syrup can be further refined to make other products. Many of Canada's most memorable souvenir items, whether it's candles or cookies, feature maple syrup flavors and themes. 

True maple syrup comes from the sap harvested from maple trees, and some communities even make a festival out of the sap harvesting season. Quebec is the world’s leading producer—it's so large it hosts the Global Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve. This year, Canada produced 13.5 million gallons of sap. Here are some of the ways they used it.

1. MAPLE BUTTER

Maple butter, also called maple cream, is a spreadable maple product that’s extremely sweet and cherished by maple fans. To make it, syrup is boiled until it reaches the soft ball stage, then cooled and stirred. The sugar will partially crystallize, and the result is syrup in a form that won’t roll off your toast. Food52 has instructions for maple butter with a tiny bit of cream or oil added for consistency. You can also make it with no other ingredients at all.

2. MAPLE LIQUEUR

Pearl Pirie via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Perhaps the most Canadian drink possible, maple liqueur is made by mixing Canadian whiskey with maple syrup. It’s not normally found bottled in liquor stores because it’s so easy to make at home, but more and more distillers are experimenting with it as word gets out in other countries. You can use it as flavoring for several beverages, like coffee, or in mixed drinks.

3. MAPLE SUGAR

Maple sugar is the granular result of boiling all the water out of maple syrup. Making it is tricky, as the syrup can burn when the water content gets low. First Nations people made maple sugar because it weighs less and lasts longer than maple syrup. Maple sugar can be used as a substitute for granulated cane sugar, and will give your recipe a little more flavor.  

4. MAPLE TAFFY

MartialArtsNomad.com via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

In her book Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder told us how her Pa would gather maple sap, and when the syrup was ready, they’d drizzle it over a pan of snow and let it harden into candy. This is maple taffy, malleable enough to wrap around a stick and chewy enough to last a long time. If you aren’t boiling down your own sap, you’ll need to heat the maple syrup to make maple taffy at home. Here are some instructions

5. MAPLE BEER

A number of craft brewers are now making beer with maple syrup. Despite what you may think, maple beer is not any sweeter than other beers. The yeast ferments away the sugar, while leaving just a bit of maple flavor, and brewers must work to play up the maple notes. Because maple syrup is relatively expensive, the beverage remains something of a niche product.

6. MAPLE BARBECUE SAUCE

shivery timbers via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

Barbecue sauce is one of the many recipes that can be enhanced with maple sugar or maple syrup in place of cane sugar. There are plenty of different ways to make maple barbecue sauce, but here’s one basic recipe to get you started.

7. MAPLE COOKIES

Maple leaf cream cookies, like these, are a Canadian favorite. In 2009, President Obama made local headlines when he purchased three maple leaf-shaped shortbread cookies at Le Moulin de Province bakery in Ottawa’s ByWard Market. Despite their shape and royal red icing, the cookies contained no actual maple flavoring, which seems like a pity. Of course, you can make many maple syrup-sweetened cookies at home. This recipe, for Canadian Maple Cookies, contains three kinds of sugar: maple syrup, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. 

8. HOT MAPLE TODDY

Patrick Truby via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

This classic recipe for a hot toddy contains whiskey, lemon, butter, and maple syrup in place of the honey you may be more familiar with. If you want the evening to last longer, you might want to add some hot water or tea to the recipe.

9. MAPLE BARS

Danielle Chang via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A maple bar is an oblong doughnut covered in maple icing or maple butter. A modern—and decadent—twist is to add a slice or two of bacon to the top. Although you'll find them at many bakeries, they are also fairly easy to make at home using canned biscuit dough, and the icing is even easier if you have maple butter on hand.

10. MAPLE SYRUP SOAP

Maple syrup is used in soaps for its scent, but to make sure yours is made with real maple syrup instead of an artificial scent, you can make it at home. The small amount of syrup added to a neutral soap base won’t leave your skin sticky, but it is supposed to have some moisturizing effect.

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Voodoo Doughnut Is Coming to the East Coast (Finally!)
Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando Resort

Voodoo Doughnut, the beloved Portland purveyor of creative pastries, is finally coming to the East Coast. The company is opening a shop at the Universal Orlando Resort in Florida, according to Travel + Leisure.

The original Voodoo Doughnut opened in Portland, Oregon in 2003. An early adopter of the maple-bacon dessert trend, it became famous for its Maple Bacon Bar and has since added doughnuts that incorporate other quirky flavors like bubble gum dust, Tang, and Fruit Loops. (At one point, the company sold doughnuts glazed with NyQuil, as well as one called a Vanilla Pepto Crushed Tums doughnut, but both of those have been discontinued by order of the health department.) Several of its unique flavors have also been turned into beers by the Oregon-based Rogue Ale.

A chocolate doughnut with a candy skull inside the hole.
A Dia de los Muertos-themed doughnut
Mathieu Thouvenin, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The popular Portland location usually features a line out the door and down the block, and the company now has outposts in Eugene, Oregon, Denver, Austin, and Los Angeles. It has such a cult following that the stores will not just provide doughnuts for your wedding, they will host the ceremony. Now, East Coast doughnut lovers will be able to get in on the action, too.

The Universal Orlando CityWalk store has opened already, but it’s still in preview mode, meaning the hours can vary, and there's no guarantee it will be open every day. When it officially opens later this spring, it will be serving up more than 50 types of doughnut seven days a week from 7 a.m. to midnight, and until 1 a.m. on weekends.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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11 Things You Might Not Have Known About Garlic
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National Garlic Day may be a holiday best celebrated alone—or with a hefty box of breath mints and a very charitable loved one—but few foods are as deserving of their very own day of recognition as the amazing, edible bulbous plant (okay, “bulbous plant” might not sound super appetizing, but it’s certainly accurate). Celebrate National Garlic Day on April 19 with your favorite garlic-laced meal and a few fun facts about this delicious, flavor-packed add-in that can do almost anything, from reducing your cholesterol to keeping vampires at bay.

1. YOU CAN EAT MORE THAN JUST THE STANDARD GARLIC CLOVE.

When you think “garlic,” you inevitably picture garlic cloves, but despite the ubiquity of that particular image of the plant, it’s not the only part you can eat. Hard-neck varieties of garlic produce “scapes,” green shoots that can be especially delicious and tender when they’re young. Think of them as garlic-flavored scallions. They also make a wonderful addition to pestos, soups, and butters.

2. CHINA PRODUCES THE MOST GARLIC.

Garlic is native to central Asia and has long popped up in European and African cooking, too. But it's China that currently holds the record for most garlic grown. Per a 2012 study, China grows a staggering two-thirds of the world’s garlic, believed to be around 46 billion pounds per year.

3. AVERAGE CONSUMPTION OF GARLIC IS BELIEVED TO WEIGH IN AT AROUND TWO POUNDS PER PERSON.

Even with just two pounds, that means eating roughly 302 cloves per person per year, as each clove typically weighs about three grams.

4. GARLIC'S HEALTH BENEFITS ARE MYRIAD, INCLUDING AN ABILITY TO REDUCE CHOLESTEROL.

The best way to release the health-happy power of garlic is to cut it, which then turns garlic’s thio-sulfinite compounds into allicin, an antibiotic and antifungal that is believed to reduce “bad” cholesterol, as it inhibits enzymes from growing in liver cells.

5. ALLICIN IS ALSO GOOD AT COMBATING HEART DISEASE.

Allicin helps nitric oxide release in the blood vessels, relaxing them and thus bringing about a drop in blood pressure. Keeping blood vessels relaxed and lowering blood pressure is good for the heart and the rest of the vascular system (and it’s tasty).

6. GARLIC CONTAINS TONS OF VITAMINS, MINERALS, AND ANTIOXIDANTS THAT ARE GOOD FOR YOU, TOO.

The bulbs are packed with potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, selenium, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and Vitamin C.

7. GARLIC'S USE AS A HEALTH AID DATES BACK TO ANCIENT HISTORY.

It’s believed that Egyptian pharaohs plied their pyramid-builders with garlic for strength, and an ancient Egyptian medical document—the Ebers Papyrus—counts a stunning 22 different medicinal uses for the plant. Garlic also pops up in texts from Virgil, Pliny the Elder, Chaucer, and Galen, all of which detail its various uses and share lore about the magic plant.

8. DESPITE ITS ASIAN ORIGINS, ITS NAME IS DERIVED FROM ANGLO-SAXON SPEECH.

A combination of two Anglo-Saxon words—“gar” (spear) and “lac” (plant)—is believed to be the source of the plant’s name, specifically in reference to the shape of its leaves.

9. GARLIC'S REAL HEALTH BENEFITS ARE PROBABLY THE REASON FOR ONE OF ITS MOST PREVALENT MYTHS.

Garlic had long been recognized as a wonderful health aid before writer Bram Stoker introduced the concept of the vampire—a beast repelled by garlic—to the public with his 1897 novel Dracula. In the book, Van Helsing uses garlic as a protective agent, and it’s believed that Stoker lifted that idea from garlic’s many medicinal purposes, particularly as a mosquito repellent (think of the blood-sucking).

10. YOU CAN USE GARLIC TO MAKE GLUE.

The sticky juice that’s in garlic cloves is often used as an adhesive, especially for delicate projects that involve fragile items like glass. You just need to crush the cloves to get to the sticky stuff which, despite its smell, works surprisingly well as a bonding agent for smaller jobs.

11. GARLIC CAN CLEAR UP SKIN TROUBLES.

You can battle both acne and cold sores with garlic, simply by slicing cloves in half and applying them directly to the skin. Hold for a bit—as long as you can stand!—and while the smell might not be the best, the antibacterial properties of the miracle plant will speed along the healing process.

All images courtesy of iStock.

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