What can I substitute for maple syrup?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “What can I substitute for maple syrup?” with an in-depth analysis of the possible substitutes for maple syrup along with their benefits and disadvantages.

What can I substitute for maple syrup?

Maple syrup can be best substituted with honey, lime juice, brown sugar syrup, miso paste and tamari. 

Manufacturing of maple syrup takes place by using xylem sap, red maple or black maple trees, and some other maple species. Starch is stored in the trunks and roots of maple syrup before the start of winter. Starch gets converted to sugar that rises in the sap in the early winter. 

Producing and consuming maple syrup is a foundational part of Vermont’s heritage and place in American popular culture. The proportion of the state’s forestland employed in harvesting maple sap for syrup is unmatched anywhere else in the United States: with over 1.94 million gallons produced in 2018 alone (nearly 50% of the national total) (1).

Substitutes of maple syrup

Maple syrup can have many alternatives. Following are some substitutes of maple syrup:

Honey

Honey is a sweet liquid that has a dark golden colour. Its production takes place in honey sacs of many bees from the nectar of flowers. The colour and flavour of honey are determined from the flowers from which the nectar is gathered.

Honey is found to be a great antioxidant. Besides acting as an antioxidant, honey also possesses anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Digestive issues can be overcome by using honey. Honey is also good to be applied on wounds. Honey has been reported to be effective in a number of human pathologies. A large number of in vitro and limited clinical studies have confirmed the broad-spectrum antimicrobial (antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antimycobacterial) properties of honey (2).

The major disadvantage of honey is that a high amount of calories are present in it which can make us obese. However, a study showed that the 8 weeks of honey ingestion decreased blood pressure, body weight, LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, and increased HDL-cholesterol in patients with type 2 diabetes and the administration of honey has been effectively used to treat diabetes (2). The level of blood sugar is also increased by using honey daily. Another risk associated with honey consumption is the risk of infant botulism (3).

Lime juice: 

Lime juice is also termed the best alternative to maple syrup. Its taste and acidic nature are almost similar to maple syrup. However, maple syrup is slightly acidic and its pH is near to neutrality. A study showed that the mean value of maple syrup samples produced in the United States was 6.63 with the rage from 4.73 to 8.70, and the mean value of any area was also slightly below neutral. The presence of organic acids contribute to the acidity of the syrup (5) . Lime juice can be used as the perfect replacement for maple syrup back to back. The PH level of both these fruits is almost similarThe pH value of lime juice is in a range between 2.34-2.35. Lime is highly acidic, that is why it is an ideal alternative to lemon juice in the preservation or canning of food (4).

Other products such as vinegar, are not similar in acidic nature with lemon juice due to which these are not so much referred for long time storage. Lemon juice is the main ingredient in desserts while lime juice has a slightly different taste. However, the taste of desserts will still be the same, citrusy and tart in nature, thus lime juice has a higher percentage of citric acid than of sugar content (4)..

Brown sugar syrup

Brown sugar syrup is a simple syrup that is composed of brown sugar instead of white granulated sugar. Only two ingredients, brown sugar and water are present in brown sugar syrup. As brown sugar gets dissolved into hot water so it becomes feasible to use it in cold drinks and beverages.

Brown sugar contains more nutrients as compared to the one present in white sugar. In comparison to white sugar, brown sugar contains low calories. In addition, it contains multiple micronutrients such as iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, copper, phosphorus, and vitamin B-6, which are essential for a healthy functioning body. Phenolic compounds are also present in brown sugar syrup, which are linked to their strong antioxidant and radical scavenging activity (6).

High consumption of brown sugar leads to the risk of heart diseases, diabetes, and some other diseases. Obesity is also associated with the consumption of brown sugar in large quantities.

Miso paste

By using fermented soybeans, miso paste is made. It can also be used by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji. Miso paste has an umami flavour with toasty, funky salty-sweet richness (7).

Some health benefits of miso paste are that these are used as anti-carcinogenic agents to protect us from cancer. Miso paste is also very good for gut health and promotes the health of brain cells.

Besides these properties there are some shortcomings of miso paste like it can cause allergy in some people due to which skin becomes itchy. Another disadvantage is that it contains a high amount of sodium which is injurious for health.

Tamari

Tamari is a rich soy sauce that is naturally fermented. The procedure of brewing tamari is almost similar to maple syrup. The only difference is that in the production of tamari, wheat is not used. The taste of tamari is almost similar to soy sauce, so no difference is felt.

There are many benefits of using maple syrup like it is very good for the digestion of fruits and vegetables. Apart from containing a lot of nutrients, tamari is also rich in vitamins. Antioxidants that are present in tamari help to prevent cells from damage caused by free radicals. It is also found that vitamin K2 (Menaquinone), which is found in fermented soy products, has a role in bone metabolism (8).

One of the main shortcomings of tamari is that it contains a much high quantity of sodium which is not good for health (9). If tamari is consumed in high quantities it can lead to diarrhoea, vomiting, anxiety, and nausea.

Other FAQs about Maple syrup that you may be interested in.

How long does maple syrup last?

Can pure maple syrup go bad?

Can maple syrup go bad?

Conclusion

In this brief article, we have provided an answer to the question, “What can I substitute for maple syrup?” with an in-depth analysis of the possible substitutes for maple syrup along with the details of their benefits and disadvantages.

References

  1. McCracken, A. Conor. From Tap to Table: Consumer Values, Producer Attitudes, and Vermont Maple Syrup in a Dynamic Landscape. The University of Vermont and State Agricultural College, 2020.
  2. Israili, Zafar H. Antimicrobial properties of honey. Am j therap, 2014, 21, 304-323.
  3. Al-Waili, Noori, et al. Antibiotic, pesticide, and microbial contaminants of honey: human health hazards. sci world J, 2012.
  4. Mohd-Hanif, Hani, Rosnah Shamsudin, and Noranizan Mohd Adzahan. UVC dosage effects on the physico-chemical properties of lime (Citrus aurantifolia) juice. Food sci biotechnol, 2016, 25, 63-67.  
  5. Takano, Hiroyuki. Investigation of chemical and physical properties of southwestern Wisconsin maple syrup. 2006. University of Wisconsin-Stout.
  6. Eggleston, Gillian. Positive aspects of cane sugar and sugar cane derived products in food and nutrition. J agric food chem, 2018, 66, 4007-4012.
  7. Minamiyama, Yukiko, and Shigeru Okada. Miso: Production, Properties, and. Handbook of fermented functional foods, 2003, 277.
  8. Luh, B. S. Industrial production of soy sauce. J ind Microbiol, 1995, 14, 467-471.
  9. Gopikrishna, T., Suresh Kumar, H.K., Perumal, K. et al. Impact of Bacillus in fermented soybean foods on human health. Ann Microbiol, 2021, 71, 30.