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Is Your Maple Syrup Still Good?

Let’s be honest — pancakes, waffles, and the like are really just vehicles for maple syrup. Maple syrup’s flavor is synonymous with cozy weekend mornings and sweet family time. It’s a staple of the American breakfast, and you probably have some in our kitchen right now. But how long has it been there? Do you know when it’s time to throw it out?

What is Maple Syrup?

Maple syrup is made from the sap of maple trees. These trees grow in cold areas, and the trees store their energy in the form of starch that is then converted into sugar within the tree. After the tree is tapped and the sap flows out, it is then cooked down to concentrate it. This process takes time, and there’s only as much sap as the maple trees have available, so these factors contribute to the real stuff’s higher price tag.

Because of the difficulty of extracting real maple syrup, manufacturers have created a product to mimic it called pancake syrup. To be clear, pancake syrup isn’t authentic maple syrup; it’s just corn syrup with caramel color and maple extract. It’s usually higher in sugar and can have a distinct artificial flavor, though it’s usually a fraction of the cost of the real stuff.

Shelf Life of Maple Syrup

Before you open your maple syrup, it can be stored at room temperature for about two years. Just make sure to store it in a cool, dry place. If your maple syrup is in a plastic container, avoid contact with sunlight as much as possible. In plastic, even if you limit exposure to light, the syrup will darken since oxygen can permeate the plastic container.

After it’s opened, maple syrup can last for about one year. Try to keep your syrup in the back of the fridge and avoid the door. The door of the refrigerator is the warmest spot, so stored here, maple syrup may spoil more rapidly.

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Get the recipe:Maple Pecan Shortbread Squares

Signs of Spoiled Maple Syrup

The first thing to watch out for when it comes to detecting if maple syrup is bad is mold. If you see any blooms of white, green, or black, it’s definitely time to throw it out. Even just a little bit around the rim means the whole bottle is contaminated.

If everything looks ok, take a whiff. It should smell like sticky, sweet maple syrup. Any trace of a fermented or yeasty flavor is cause to throw it away. Sometimes, maple syrup can crystallize. Hot water on the outside of the container or boiling the syrup and melting it can easily eliminate the crystals.

Factors Affecting Maple Syrup Quality

The biggest concern regarding the quality of your maple syrup, once it’s open, is contamination. If bacteria or pieces of food drop into the container, it can cause the syrup to mold or spoil much faster. To avoid this, always clean off the lid and top of the container of your maple syrup after using it. Try not to touch the cap or opening if possible; the bacteria on your hands can easily hitch a ride into your syrup.

Proper Storage Methods for Maple Syrup

Once you open your syrup, make sure to store it in the fridge. Maple syrup does best in glass containers, which will extend its shelf life. If your maple syrup comes in a plastic container, it will go bad fast in just a few months; the easiest way to remedy this is to simply transfer the syrup into a clean glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.

Debunking Misconceptions about Maple Syrup’s Shelf Life

Maple syrup has an incredibly long shelf life, and because of this, some people may think it never goes bad. However, all food spoils eventually, and maple syrup is no exception. Some say to store your maple syrup at room temperature in the pantry. And while this won’t cause it to go bad immediately like a gallon of milk would be stored like this, to get the most life out of it, storing your syrup in the fridge is the way to go.

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