About to dig into a delicious stack of pancakes and wondering - is maple syrup gluten free?
Dive right into that delicious breakfast, because maple syrup is naturally gluten free! Keep reading to learn how maple syrup is made, what the different grades mean and why it’s different from table syrup (also known as pancake syrup).
What is maple syrup
As a Canadian, I feel it is my civic duty to discuss maple syrup at length. It’s such a great gift from nature, eh?!
Pure maple syrup is tree sap - from a maple tree! Sap is collected by drilling directly into the tree and it runs into buckets (or lines attached to the tree if you’re serious about your maple syrup).
Maple sap is watery and runny, but when it’s boiled the water starts to evaporate. This leaves behind the sweet, sticky liquid that we love to slather all over pancakes and waffles.
Maple syrup season starts sometime in March and can go until the sap stops running, which may be anytime in April. Sugar shacks are super busy during this time boiling down all the tree sap. It takes 40 gallons of sap just to make 1 gallon of maple syrup!
There’s no gluten in tree sap, so pure maple syrup is safe for anyone on a gluten free diet.
Grades of maple syrup
Just like all of us in elementary school, maple syrup also receives a grade! The grading system refers to the different colouring and tastes that come from boiling the maple sap.
- Golden: it has a light colour and the most subtle flavour. Golden maple syrup comes from the sap that first flows at the start of the season.
- Amber: light amber colour (go figure) and a richer flavour. This is the classic maple syrup taste everyone knows and loves.
- Dark: deep flavour and dark amber in colour. This maple syrup has a much more intense maple flavour than the amber grade.
- Very Dark: the, obviously, darkest and strongest flavour of them all. This maple syrup is the equivalent of drinking your coffee black - it’s strong, flavourful, and packs a real maple punch!
Does the grade of maple syrup matter during baking? Not really. Each grade offers a different flavour and colour, so it may alter the taste and appearance of your baked goods slightly.
Is maple syrup dairy free?
Yes, maple syrup is dairy free! It’s boiled tree sap, so it’s naturally gluten free, dairy free and vegan!
Brands of maple syrup
- Is Kirkland Maple Syrup gluten free? It sure is! Both their regular and organic versions are Grade A Amber.
Maple syrup is naturally gluten free, so any of these other brands will work for you, too! (As always, check the product label to make sure it’s 100% pure maple syrup with no additives and no warnings about cross-contamination!)
- Simple Truth Organic Maple Syrup
- Trader Joe’s Maple Syrup
- 365 by Whole Foods Maple Syrup
- Field Day Organic Maple Syrup
- Old Fashioned Maple Crest 100% Pure Maple Syrup
How to use maple syrup
Maple syrup is a staple for a thick stack of pancakes, or a thick, gluten free Belgian waffle. (I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.) If you have some gluten free oat flour kicking around - try these Oat Flour Waffles.
Maple syrup also makes a really great sweetener in recipes like a Gluten Free Strawberry Galette.
There’s always a 500mL jug of maple syrup in our fridge - it’s such a great ingredient to have in your gluten free kitchen!
The difference between maple syrup and table syrup
Did you know that table syrup (also known as pancake syrup) and maple syrup are two totally different things?
Table syrup typically contains high-fructose corn syrup, water, colouring, flavour and preservatives. On the flipside, maple syrup is simple boiled tree sap.
Table syrup is artificially manufactured, while maple syrup is a gift to all of us from the beloved maple tree. (Is my Canadian showing?! I’m all a-boot the pure maple syrup!)
Is pancake syrup gluten free?
Pancake syrup is a bit trickier to determine if it’s gluten free, since it’s manufactured. Be sure to always check ingredient labels and any warnings for gluten ingredients.
- Is Aunt Jemima gluten free? Now named Pearl Milling Company, their original syrup does not contain any gluten ingredients. It may be considered safe for a gluten free diet.
- Is Hungry Jack syrup gluten free? Hungry Jack syrup does not contain any gluten ingredients; however, the company states on their website that it does not meet the established criteria for a gluten free claim. I would stay away from this product.
- Is Log Cabin syrup gluten free? Log Cabin table syrup does not contain any gluten ingredients. It may be safe on a gluten free diet.
- Is Mrs Butterworth syrup gluten free? Mrs. Butterworth syrup doesn’t contain any gluten ingredients, so it may be safe on a gluten free diet.
None of the brands listed above have specific allergen information on their website (apart from Hungry Jack, which has said they don’t meet gluten free criteria), so I would be careful with some of these brands of table syrup.
Read the labels on specific products in the grocery store and make the choice that is most comfortable. (Or buy pure maple syrup instead, since it’s naturally gluten free!)