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Last week I was at a breakfast place in a Maine resort town and had some pancakes. The offered "real" maple syrup at extra cost, so I asked for it. It came in a plastic dish so I could not see the container.

It tasted like fake syrup to me, that bland taste. Normally, with real maple syrup I expect it to be pungent and "maple-ly" tasting, kind of like Laphroaig has a strong taste compared to Oban. Is this not an accurate expectation? Do real maple syrups have a range of tastes, including the bland store bought taste, or do all real syrups have a strong and unmistakable taste?

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There is enough variation in maple syrup that grading systems (regionally different) have been introduced, treating each grade as a separate kind of merchandise. Actually, the more expensive stuff (grade A/AA) is subtler and might appear weak to someone used to the more flavourful and darker B/C grades.

  • BTW, in USA & Canada maple syrup grading has changed, B & C are gone and there are now four different grades of A. I think producers wanted to charge grade A prices for grade B, especially with so many prefering grade B. epicurious.com/ingredients/…, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maple_syrup#Grades – Shannon Severance Jul 6 '17 at 20:38
  • Well, honestly, it was a bit weird that grade A was sometimes more expensive despite having relatively little flavor; if anything I think people were being tricked by grading/labeling before and if darker ends up more expensive based on demand, that's what I'd have expected in the first place. – Cascabel Jul 6 '17 at 21:00
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    It might all level out, since there are also a lot of maple syrup users that want a hip refined sugar substitute on par with honey, agave syrup... – rackandboneman Jul 6 '17 at 21:28
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To me, the corn syrup base fake syrups are clearly distinct, but I'm quite familiar with the real stuff in all its variations from sap to sugar. And what people taste or can distinguish seems to vary, a lot.

The flavor (and color) of the real thing does vary quite a bit, and the light-colored stuff is fairly mild, but it's still distinctly maple, not fake maple.

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