Friday, April 8, 2011

It's really good for you!

Chances are that if you're on the Sugarmomma's Maple Farm website, you know how good real maple syrup is. Like, so good you have a hard time picking your favorite grade 'cause they're all so delicious! But did you know that maple syrup is good for you, too?

Pure maple syrup contains minerals (including potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, thiamine, and manganese), B-vitamins (niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, folic acid, pyridoxine, and biotin), vitamin A, amino acids, antioxidant compounds, and anti-inflammatory compounds.

What 's more, medicinal plant researcher Navindra Seeram reported at a recent national meeting of the American Chemical Society that his team of scientists from the University of Rhode Island has "found more than 20 compounds in maple syrup from Canada that have been linked to human health, 13 of which are newly discovered in maple syrup. In addition, eight of the compounds have been found in the Acer (maple) family for the first time." (

Of these new finds, one that particularly stands out has been dubbed Quebecol (in honor of the Canadian province that leads maple syrup production worldwide). This compound is not present in maple sap and appears to be formed when the sap is boiled to make syrup.

"Quebecol has a unique chemical structure or skeleton never before identified in nature," Seeram said. "I believe the process of concentrating the maple sap into maple syrup is what creates Quebecol. There is beneficial and interesting chemistry going on when the boiling process occurs. I believe the heat forms this unique compound." (Science Codex)

Interestingly and perhaps ironically, "several of these anti-oxidant compounds newly identified in maple syrup are also reported to have anti-cancer, anti-bacterial and anti-diabetic properties." (

More maple
If you would like more opportunities to reap the benefits of real maple syrup, try using it for more than just topping pancakes, french toast, and waffles! Use it to sweeten coffee or tea, flavor vegetables or meat, or as a substitute for sugar in baking recipes.
  • Sauté 1 pound of vegetables in butter until almost done, then stir in 2 Tablespoons of maple syrup and continue to cook for a few more minutes. (Use any dense vegetable, like brussels sprouts, parsnips, rutabaga ... don't feel limited to carrots, which Jennifer prepared with Sugarmomma's maple syrup at a recent winter farmers' market, shown in the Seacoast Eat Local photo at right!)
  • Add a few spoonsful of maple syrup to slow cooker recipe for pork, lamb, or beef.
  • For every 1 cup of sugar called for in a baking recipe, use 3\4 cup of pure maple syrup and reduce the liquids in the recipe by 3 tablespoons. (It's important to remember that maple syrup is a bit sweeter than sugar and a liquid, so two kinds of compensation are required.)
As the sugaring season winds down, don't fret; your Sugarmomma has lots of maple to go around. Come sample and purchase Sugarmomma's award-winning maple syrup and other products at Seacoast farmers' markets year round. The last two winter markets are this month, but summer markets start the first week of May in Exeter and Portsmouth!

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