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Why Maple Syrup Isn't Like Broccoli

Not surprisingly, there are several reasons that maple syrup isn't like broccoli, and one of them, of course, is that broccoli doesn't go on pancakes. But there is one big similarity--the vitamins and minerals in both foods!

This week's blog post is actually inspired by a conversation we had at the farmer's market last week.  A customer came through very concerned that we were boiling our maple syrup, because they thought that boiling would cause a loss of vitamins and minerals. This isn't true, but we understand why someone might worry about this.  After all, we've read about how boiling your vegetables (like broccoli) causes them to be less nutritious, and we've read that heating honey can destroy some of its antioxidant properties, so why doesn't the same thing happen to maple syrup?

The devil, as they say, is in the details.  When you boil a vegetable such as broccoli, you'll notice that the water tends to pick up a little bit of the color of the vegetable.  This is because the nutrients are indeed being leached out of the vegetable into the heated water.  The longer you boil the vegetable, the more pronounced this effect will be.  After boiling, we toss the vegetable into a colander and let the water run down the drain.  The problem is that we've done a process that removes vitamins and minerals into the water and then done a second process that disposes of that water.

When making syrup we remove water in a fundamentally different way.  Instead of using a colander or strainer to run the water down the drain, we either use reverse osmosis to dispose of pure water at the molecular level or remove the water by boiling it to steam.  These processes actually concentrate the vitamins and minerals present into the finished syrup  instead of reducing them.  It is true that certain vitamins (particularly vitamin B) are degraded by high heat.  However, the boiling process is highly effective at concentrating many other beneficial substances, as well as killing any bacteria present in the sap, and, most importantly, developing the rich maple flavors through the maillard and caramelization reactions that take place during the boiling process. 

 

Check out this chart from the NYS Maple Producer's Association:

 Nutrient Maple Syrup Corn Syrup Honey Brown Sugar White Sugar
Manganese 95% 0% 4% 2% 0%
Riboflavin 37% 1% 2% 0% 1%
Zinc 6% 0% 2% 0% 0%
Magnesium 7% 0% 1% 2% 0%
Calcium 5% 0% 0% 4% 0%
Potassium 5% 0% 1% 1% 0%
216 Calories 220 Calories 261 Calories 216 Calories 196 Calories

% of Recommended Daily Value (DV) per 1/4 Cup of Sweetener

Want to learn more about the health benefits of maple syrup? Check out this article on the Food Network!

 Want to try some delicious maple syrup? Head over to our online store.

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