Do you own something called “pancake syrup”? Banish it from your pantry, please. There’s no excuse for buying flavored corn syrup for dressing your waffles or pouring over French toast. We’ll take syrup tapped from maple trees or pressed from sugar cane any day.
They had me with their packaging. Flask-shaped bottles just the right size to hold in your hand. Elegant labels promising cardamom or ginger or a whiff of pecan smoke. It was the handsome face of Runamok Maple that caught my eye, but it was the rich flavor that kept me sipping spoonful after spoonful. Eric and Laura Sorkin and the crew of Runamok Maple tap 81,000 trees in northern Vermont for each year’s production of maple syrup. They offer a Sugarmarker’s Cut (the reserve they consider the best of the year’s syrupmaking) but they also make syrups aged in bourbon, whiskey or rum barrels, syrups smoked with pecan, and syrups infused with ginger, hibiscus, makrut lime leaf and more. These elegant syrups will grace any stack of pancakes or you’ll want to use them in cocktails, sodas, side dishes and desserts.
$16.95 per 250-ml bottle. Available at Alon’s Bakery, Cook’s Warehouse, Farmview Market, Garnish & Gather, Intown Ace, Lucy’s Market, Roswell Hardware, Simply Fresh Market, Strippaggio and Tipple & Rose. Or online at runamokmaple.com/.
Maple Syrup from B & G Foods
Your grocery store shelves are likely to hold at least one or two brands of pure maple syrup bottled by B & G Foods, reportedly the largest bottler of maple syrup in the country. Spring Tree, Maple Grove and Cary’s are three of the brands I’ve seen at my store. Tapping maple trees for their sap and then reducing that sap down for syrup is a time-honored tradition. Cary’s has been producing its maple syrup since 1906. Maple Grove’s syrup comes from farms that have been tapping maple trees since the 1770s. The brand was established in 1915. Trees are tapped in the spring when the sap begins running, the sap is boiled down to syrup and the syrup is graded by color and taste. All these syrups are Grade A with Amber being perhaps the most popular.
Prices range from $6 to $7 for an 8.5-ounce bottle. Available at grocery stores nationwide. bgfoods.com
Almost Rum Sugar Cane Syrup from Richland Rum
Generations of Southerners have grown and pressed sugar cane, reducing the juice down to syrup and pouring the result on their biscuits and waffles. Karin and Erik Vonk, originally from Holland, moved to 1,800 acres in Stewart County southeast of Columbus with plans to grow sugar cane and then ultimately to turn the cane juice into syrup and then into rum. In the small town of Richland, their distillery produces a fine sipping rum from the cane the Vonks grow, but fortunately for us, some of the syrup is diverted from the still. This unrefined sugar cane syrup is available as Almost Rum and recently they’ve begun aging the syrup in used rum barrels which adds a whole new dimension to the flavor. The Vonks recommend using the syrup as a glaze for salmon or a rub for ham, as a key component of a richly flavored barbecue sauce or just to sweeten a glass of iced tea. We enjoyed it mixed, at their suggestion, with olive oil to use as a dip for freshly baked bread. It’s likely to make it into our Thanksgiving sweet potatoes as well.
$8 per 8-ounce bottle of Almost Rum. $11 per 8-ounce bottle of Barrel Aged syrup. Available online at richlandrum.com.
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