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Taste test: Maple syrup

If pancakes are on the menu for mom this Mother's Day weekend, our panelists recommend pure maple syrup over the more familiar, flavored corn syrups. Maple syrup is lighter in texture and color, depending on the grade. It's also natural and delicious. We sampled 11 brands of pure maple syrup on homemade pancakes. When possible, we chose medium grade varieties. Our panelists had no problem picking favorites.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent


(out of 100)
Field Day Organic 78Hannaford 73Maple Grove Farms 65

Dark and robust maple flavor made this the winner. "It tastes almost like blackstrap molasses," said one judge. "It's deep and dark like just after dusk in the swamps of Louisiana." Panelists enjoyed the thick texture as well. "It's on the verge of having a dark brown sugar flavor as well," said one. "It would impart a lot of maple flavor in baked goods." Another said, "I can tell these trees were on the sunny side of the hill."Sweetbay's store brand of maple syrup had a smooth, almost buttery taste. It's a really nice, dark amber color with an almost woodsy aftertaste, said one judge. Another taster described the flavor as "slightly floral and exotic." Panelists said this syrup would work on a dessert like ice cream or cake as well.The syrup from Maple Grove was thinner than much of the competition, but judges were pleased with its overall appearance and flavor. A couple said it was a bit sweet, but they would still buy it. "I think it's very sweet, reminding me of Mrs. Butterworth without the hint of faux butter," said one. Another said this brand also would be good for baking because it would add sweetness and a little texture without overwhelming a muffin or scone.

they buy?
All five judges said yes.Four of the five judges said yes.Two of the five judges said yes.
Shopping information$9.99 for an 8-ounce bottle

from Earth Origins Market in

St. Petersburg.
$7.29 for a 12.5-ounce bottle from Sweetbay.$7.98 for a 12.5-ounce bottle from Walmart.

Also Sampled: Trader Joe's ($5.49 for an 8-ounce bottle from Trader Joe's in Sarasota, 52 points); Great Value ($6.98 for a 12.5-ounce bottle from Walmart, 60 points); Highland Sugarworks ($13.99 for a 16-ounce bottle from The Fresh Market, 57 points); Archer Farms ($2.29 for a 3.4-ounce bottle from Target, 63 points); Spring Tree ($7.99 for a 12.5-ounce bottle from Publix, 56 points); Maple Gold ($5.99 for an 8-ounce bottle from Publix, 57 points) and Cary's ($5.49 for an 8-ounce bottle from Publix, 44 points).

Panelists: Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the City of Treasure Island; John Hehn, foodie and owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design; Wayne Conery, manager of the R-Bar on Treasure Island, and Laura Reiley, Times food critic. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Serving sizeFour tablespoonsFour tablespoonsFour tablespoons
Fat/Fiber0g / 0g0g / 0g0g / 0g
Sugars/Sodium53g / 10mg53g / 5mg53g / 5mg
Carbs/Protein53g / 0g53g / 0g53g / 0g

Taste test: Maple syrup 05/07/13 [Last modified: Monday, May 6, 2013 5:43pm]
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