Monday, September 26, 2011


One chipper Saturday morning in college, our apartment of three girls headed over to our friends' (three boys) apartment for a waffle breakfast.  They had the table set with an assortment of toppings for the waffles.  There was maple syrup of course.  Peanut butter graced the table as well I'm sure, but the one that surprised me was corn syrup.

"You aren't seriously going to slather your waffle with that are you?" I asked the tall boy. "It's corn syrup--straight sugar."

"Of course I am." he asserted, pouring it on his waffle.  "It's the exact same thing the maple syrup is made out of anyway!"

I couldn't argue with that, but just because it was the truth about the "naturally flavored" maple syrup didn't make it right--didn't mean that I wanted to embrace that fact, and skip the maple flavor and go straight to the corn syrup.

Jeremy and I use exclusively pure maple syrup in our home.  The number one response I get to that is "But it's so much more expensive!"  Sometimes followed by, "With how much my kids use we'd go broke!"

There are a couple of reasons why this doesn't deter us.  First of all.  Real maple syrup is a lot thinner than the corn syrup based version.  So it spreads out thinner and will therefore last longer if used accordingly.  Also the higher price helps us consider exactly how much we do let our kids use.  Even the smaller containers that pure maple syrups come in from the store help give a visual reminder to use it sparingly so we teach our kids that.  Although a natural one--it is still a sugar syrup. 

Recently I've been interested in making fruit-based syrups as a way of providing for our pancake syrup "needs."  (Though one day I'd love my very own maple bush (grove) to make real maple syrup.)  I was contemplating how to get a thicker syrup rather than just adding sugar to make fruit juice more "syrupy".  Of course pectin was the answer and I don't know why I never thought of it before.  I was excited to become familiar with Pomona's Pectin which is a citrus-based pectin as opposed to the standard apple-based varieties.  Pomona's can use significantly less sugar and still "jell."  You can also use honey and other sweeteners--not just white sugar. 

The website suggested for making syrups to use 1/4 the measurements of pectin from jam recipes as a starting point.  My first try was with elderberries foraged from a couple bushes in the university gardens.  Jeremy had a large elderberry bush at his house growing up and he remembers his dad making elderberry syrup when he was a kid.
I'm excited for the potential of making more natural and lower sugar syrups for our family pancakes.  Though truth be told--maybe elderberry wasn't the best choice of fruit for trying to go low sugar!

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