Chapter 1: Why Use Maple Syrup instead of Cane Sugar

We worked very hard on Local Sugar, but we don’t want to prevent anyone from experiencing it.  So here, for free, is Chapter 1 of the book.  The seed of this was originally a rough post on this blog several years ago, but we’ve updated and improved it big time for publishing.  It’s a quick, clear cut read that won’t waste your time.  Enjoy!  

Chapter 1: Why Use Maple Syrup instead of Cane Sugar

Look at your cookbook shelf. I’m guessing almost all of the dessert recipes in those books are operating on formulas optimized for that cheap white junk—refined cane sugar. But what if we opened our minds and our ovens (and our coffee cups!) to a new sweetener? A sweetener that has an actual flavor of its own? A sweetener that you probably already know and love the taste of? A sweetener that you might even be able to harvest in your own backyard? Here are the key differences you need to know about when we’re talking about maple syrup compared to sugar made from sugarcane or even sugar beets.

Maple Syrup is Less Processed

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Table sugar is a great example of ultra-processed food. The procedure to extract the sweet juices from a sugarcane or sugar beet is complex and done completely in a factory setting. Various chemicals are used to aid in extraction, processing, and filtration. Maple syrup is minimally processed. It is made by boiling maple sap, which is easily harvested from maple trees without hurting the tree. The processing is so basic you could do it in your kitchen, no machinery or chemicals required.

Maple Syrup is Local

maple tree tapped for sap to make maple syrup

Speaking of your own kitchen, did you know that maple sugar and syrup are mainly produced in the northern USA and Canada? For many of us it essentially comes from our own backyard. On the other hand, the sugarcane and beets used for table sugar are grown and processed in countries all over the world.

Manufacturers almost never share the true origins, instead just noting where it was packaged. Weird how that’s legal.

Maple Syrup is More Nutritious

Going back to the crazy amount of processing sugarcane and beets undergo… all traces of nutritional value are erased from the final table sugar product. On the other hand, maple syrup’s minimal processing actually preserves some nutrients that feed the maple tree. These nutrients are actually considered essential to human health, and include: iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, and copper.

There is also promising research indicating that maple syrup has properties that could reduce dependency on antibiotics when treating illnesses. Amazing.


Looking for ways to cut back on processed sugar in your cooking?

Check out Local Sugar now for over 60 ideas for using pure, local maple syrup instead of the white junk!   We tested and enjoyed clever recipes that have traditional roots and embrace the depth and wonder that is maple syrup, without compromising on flavor or texture like typical substitutions do.

We are also sensitive to folks with special diets, and have an index identifying all recipes that fit these diets: gluten free, dairy free, vegan, vegetarian, and whole grain.  There is plenty to choose from for anyone!

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