Organic Specialty vs. Mass Produced. What the hell’s the difference?
These are the thoughts I have. A few weeks ago during Canadian Thanksgiving my friend Marilyn dropped off a bottle of organic Maple Syrup from a Maple Syrup farm her sister lives near. I have rationed it as best I could ever since. I hadn’t even tasted a drop of it before I started barking orders about how it was to be used only for special occassions and it was never, EVER to be chugged from the bottle. As often happens in this house by one particular male individual.
This maple syrup was from an organic maple syrup farm and costs twice as much as the stuff you buy in the grocery store. And not even the “pancake topping”. It costs twice as much as actual 100% maple syrup.
Being the kind of gal that I am I HAD to do a taste test with the stuff before the bottle ran out. So I lined up a jug of the cheap stuff and the bottle of the organic stuff and called in the fella.
He’s always up for helping me with my posts. When he found out this particular post was a maple syrup taste test he kind of squealed and jumped up and down on the stop for 3 minutes straight.
Both syrups were 100% medium grade maple syrup. “Medium” refers to a colour scale which grades how much light can pass through the syrup. Light syrup is more delicate in flavour, medium is a little richer and dark maple syrup is very, very distinct with a darker, earthier flavour best for baking.
The Cheap Stuff. $10 for 1 litre.
The Good Stuff. $10 for 1/2 litre.
Round #1 of a blind taste test
The Cheap Stuff.
Down the Hatch.
Taste Test #2. The Good Stuff.
Down the Hatch. Again.
Making sure he’s got every …
… little …
… last bit.
Obviously the winner was The Good Stuff. By a landslide. Apparently the Cheap Stuff tasted like “churched up” Aunt Jemima.
So I did a little searching to find out how two identical products, both containing 100% medium grade maple syrup could taste so different.
It seems maple syrup is a lot like wine in that the taste of it differs from region to region. Also, maple syrup comes from 3 types of maple trees: Sugar maples, Black maples and Red maples. The taste of the syrup differs slightly depending on what type of tree it comes from. And finally, the time of the season that the sap is collected also alters the flavour of the syrup. If you take sap from the tree too late in the season, when the buds have started to form, then the sap will have a somewhat “less pleasant” flavour.
So the only conclusion I can come up with is perhaps the mass produced cheap syrup was taken from trees in a less favourable climate, from a shoddy tree that was in bud, in order to increase production.
Or … the fella sneaked a peak when I was giving the taste test. Either way, the Good Stuff is still being rationed. And by “rationed” I mean I’ve hid it where he won’t find it. In the crisper with the vegetables.