Everybody loves maple syrup, including molds and growths you do not want to ingest. However, careful handling and storage at safe temperatures can keep this delicious nectar good to the last drop for you and your family. But does maple syrup go bad?
Does Maple Syrup Expire?
Maple syrup, once processed and sealed in an airtight container, can last for years.
If you get the chance to process it from start to finish, food preservation experts from Ohio State University recommend boiling glass jars for ten minutes to make sure they are free of bacterial contamination.
Why glass? Because it's beautiful stuff! Also, should any contaminants get in the jar and have a happy sugar dance on top of your syrup, you'll know and can discard that container while still sealed.
Once your jars are boiled, Karen Fifield of Michigan State University recommends filtering the syrup and packing the jars while the syrup is hot, or at least 185 degrees Fahrenheit. This will reduce the risk of bacterial transfer from product to jar, and hot syrup flows easier than cold.
Once the jars are filled and sealed airtight, they can be stored in a cool dry cellar for up to years. After opening, the jars can be refrigerated for up to a year.
Making maple syrup requires boiling down sap for long periods of time. Syrup expert Carl Vogt of the University of Minnesota provides a cooking ratio for the creation of maple syrup:
On average, the sugar concentration in maple sap is two per cent. That means that it takes forty-three gallons of sap to create one gallon of syrup.
Boiling sap is skimmed to remove foam and any contaminants that come to the surface of the hot sap. Once reduced, maple syrup is filtered, packed into containers while hot, and sealed.
How Long Does Maple Syrup Last?
Maple syrup retailers recommend refrigerating the syrup upon opening and using it within six months of opening the container. If you find maple syrup that has been in your refrigerator for longer than that, check for mold on the top.
If the product has no mold, it's probably safe, but when in doubt throw it out!
Before adding syrup to your pancakes or waffles, check the syrup to make sure it's clear. You can bring it to a slow boil of 190 degrees Fahrenheit or less if you're the least bit concerned about bacterial contamination or yeast growth.
If the syrup you purchased was clear and is now cloudy, it's probably hosting a party for bacteria or yeast. Do not open it.
If you processed your own syrup, the cloudiness may be caused by minerals, per experts at the Minnesota Maple Syrup Producer's Association. If you know the age of the jar and are comfortable with tasting it, feel free to open it outside and taste a bit.
If the cloudiness is caused by bacteria, you'll know right away, be glad you opened it outside. Discard immediately.
How Can You Tell If Maple Syrup Has Gone Bad?
Because maple syrup is extremely thick and is processed at extreme heat for a very long time, it's unlikely to ferment or spoil.
However, it can grow mold on the top surface.
If you're brave enough, scrape off the mold layer and bring it to 190 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not go above 200 degrees, or the syrup will darken and may burn. Once it cools, taste it. If it tastes OK, it's OK.
How To Store Maple Syrup?
Like any preserved product, once the seal is broken, maple syrup belongs in the refrigerator.
Syrup hobbyists and professionals offer great advice on long-term syrup storage of sealed containers, but if you don't have a storage cellar, the refrigerator is the safest storage spot for this fabulous gift of nature.
Keep this beautiful product at the front of the refrigerator, and you'll find great reasons to use it up!
Does maple syrup go bad? Don't give it time to spoil!
Sugar processing and the preservation of food is a fascinating science. If you get the chance to join in on a maple tapping party, go for it! Enjoy the bounty available from these beautiful, beneficial trees and the labor of love that is maple syrup.