Maple Syrup – A Very Versatile Ingredient

Peter Morrell finds out that there is a lot more to the essence of Canada than just putting it on pancakes

The imposing and newly re-furbished Canada House overlooking Trafalgar Square was the venue for a recent visit to London by a delegation of Maple Syrup Producers from Quebec in Canada. They were in London to show how their well known ingredient has a wide range of culinary uses.

Quebec Province produces 91% of all Canadian maple syrup, it is made by collecting the rising water or sap in either containers or via a line. Each litre of syrup requires 40 litres of sap so it is a long and difficult process.

The first surprise was that the water rising in the trunk is available as a refreshing and re-hydrating drink. It has a clean taste with just a hint of maple flavour. It was used by the First Nations people of Canada as the original energy boosting drink. It is available in the UK, to ensure that you are buying a quality product look for the  NAPSI certified logo on the packaging.

After nibbling on some delicious maple syrup based canapés I took at look at some other ingredients which use the product. These included maple sugar, maple butter, maple flakes, maple spirits and specialty products such as vinegars, mustards and jellies.

It was then time to settle down for a cookery demo given by the Montreal chef Philippe Mollé who very quickly produced two very tasty savoury dishes using turkey and pork. (see the turkey recipe below).

Alternative to sugar

Pure maple syrup from Canada can be used as a healthier substitute to sugar in a variety of desserts and baked goods, such as pies and cakes.

To apply maple syrup as a white or brown sugar alternative, use a one-for-one substitution and reduce the quantity of liquid ingredients in the recipe (water, milk, juice) by about 60ml. Maple syrup can also serve as a one-to-one substitute for liquid sweeteners, such as honey, treacle and corn syrup.

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A few maple facts
  • Maple syrup is a healthy sweetener that is 100% natural, pure and free of any colourings or additives: an unprocessed, authentic product of nature.
  • It is available in four grades, based on the lightness of the syrup, which is dependent on the time of season the sap is collected from the tree.
  • Canada produces 71% of the world’s pure maple syrup, 91% of which is produced in Quebec.
  • Each maple harvest season, the sugar trees are tapped in a slightly different area than the previous year, preserving the health and enforcing the sustainable growth of trees.
  • The Quebec ‘Preservation of Agricultural Land and Agricultural Activities’ Act forbids cutting down an entire maple grove in an agricultural zone. Thus, consuming maple products contributes to the protection of forests and wildlife.
  • Quebec province is the only place in North America that has quality inspectors who test, taste and classify every one of the 200,000 barrels of maple syrup produced each year.

For more information about this versatile ingredient go to

Pulled Turkey, Sweet and Sour Maple Sauce

Serves 4

500g cooked turkey meat (drumsticks and breast)
60g button mushrooms
1 onion, sliced thin
45ml sunflower or olive oil
5 tsp crushed black pepper
45ml sherry or wine vinegar
45ml pure maple syrup from Canada
175ml gravy or thick chicken stock
45ml cranberry juice*
8 slices rustic bread, thinly sliced and toasted
Salt and pepper, to taste

Pull turkey pieces apart.
Heat sherry vinegar, maple syrup and pepper together until reduced by three quarters.
In a different pan, add oil and sauté onions with mushrooms for 2-3 minutes.
Mix gravy with the vinegar reduction, add onions and mushrooms, then pulled turkey.
Adjust seasoning.
Add cranberry juice to loosen the mixture.*
Place slice of bread on each plate.
Place pulled turkey on top of each slice of bread. Cover with second slice of bread.
*The cranberry juice can be omitted if the consistency is fine as is.