Moldy Maple Syrup

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2015 • all rights reserved

Moldy Maple Syrup: Yuck! I thought maple syrup was one of those things that stayed good forever. Wrong. What you need to know about storing it so it won't get moldy.

When we were cruising in Mexico aboard Que Tal, we could never get real maple syrup — only the imitation such as Log Cabin and Mrs. Butterworth. These I never refrigerated and a bottle would stay good as long as it took us to eat it — typically over a year. Even those the climate was hot, maple syrup just never needed to be refrigerated.

This winter, aboard Barefoot Gal, I splurged and got a small bottle of real maple syrup. And no, I didn’t refrigerate it. We have a very small refrigerator and I only use it for things that have to be kept cold.

Well, add real maple syrup to that list.

Yesterday, I made French toast for breakfast and pulled the bottle of syrup out of the bin where I keep it. At first, I thought some of the sugar had crystallized on top. Then I took a second look . . .

And then I poured a bit out. Yep. Definitely a powdery mold.

It went in the trash.

I had always been under the impression that while most people did refrigerate real maple syrup, it didn’t actually have to be kept cold.

Now I know differently.

Googling the topic, I discovered that sure enough, real maple syrup will get moldy if not refrigerated. According to the University of Vermont extension service, it supposedly isn’t a dangerous mold and you can supposedly skim it off, heat the syrup, skim the top off again, and use it. Learn more about the fungus from Cornell University.

Since I’d rather not deal with all that, I think I’ll just refrigerate my real maple syrup. If I don’t have room in the refrigerator, I’ll get the imitation syrup — it has enough preservatives in it that it can be left out.

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  1. But then would you like to consume all that the imitations contain?

  2. Switch to raw unpasteurized honey. It never goes bad and is a natural antibiotic!

  3. Honey and maple syrup are worlds apart…i lived in Ontario and Maple Syrup is a huge industry there…yes you have to refridgerate maple syrup..we have a jug in the fridge on our boat…we put some in a cup and warm it up …cuz cold maple syrup cools ur pancakes too quickly 😉

  4. Mary Watson says:

    As a New Hampshire born and bred girl, I just can’t have my pancakes, etc without the real thing. I buy my syrup from Fuller’s Sugarhouse on line..where they have a variety of different size containers to purchase which are perfect for boat use. I find that the unopened containers can be stored but once opened, must be refrigerated.

    • Ted Broom says:

      Having worked last year in Twin Mountain NH. we became familiar with Fullers. We brought several smaller jugs back to Fl with us and are able to store a couple while having one in use in the fridge. Good stuff!!!!!

  5. Yeah, we just recently found this out the hard way. No, it won’t kill you but you might wish you had died after ingesting. Ours too is now refrigerated.

    The imitation syrups lasts so long out of refrigerator because there is no maple syrup used to make it. It is artificially flavored high fructose corn syrup. They should label it, “Diabetes in a Bottle.”

  6. No big deal, the heat and skim method works. My mom always left it in the cupboard until May and then moved it to the fridge. Sometimes she forgot. There is no substitute for maple syrup (New Englander here!), so it is definitely worth cleaning up. I have been known to bring my own container when going out for breakfast!

    • I’m from Michigan which isn’t as well-known for maple syrup, but there are plenty of small operations. A highlight of kindergarten was always the trip to the sugar house . . . and the little piece of maple sugar candy that every kid was given.

      • Carolyn, I did not know you were from Michigan. Where do you hail from? I was born in Marquette but have lived in the Detroit area most of my life. Did you sail the Great Lakes while you were here?

  7. Yup, one of the few “condiment” things we actually put in the fridge, for the few times we have it. Nutmeg syrup and cane syrup are nice, but just not quite the same… And Aunt Jemima is not welcome on our boat.

  8. Kristi Thomason says:

    I prefer the homemade syrup my Mom used to make to the artificial syrups. Equal parts packed brown sugar and water, maybe a bit of butter, add Maple flavoring if you desire, boil in a saucepan. It’s a bit thin, but I think a much better flavor! And I can make only as much as needed.

  9. I agree, heat and skim, store airtight, and when it’s really old, cut open the container and eat the crystallized bits….

  10. Since I am from Maine and EW is from western New York, fake maple syrup has not been an option aboard La Luna. And, since this is my rule and I’m the cook, we will always have room for real maple syrup in the fridge. It’s how we sail.

  11. Heat and skim may be safe; but that would definitely curb my appetite. I’m with you,, pitch it. Why take even the slightest chance.

  12. Vala Richmond says:

    I’ve had amazing luck with no molding by storing opened containers in my coldest hatch. Not sure if I will be able to keep that up as summer approaches. I’ll just have to make room in the tiny fridge for one of the small bottles, as we really love the stuff!

  13. Claire Ford says:

    Just ran to my pantry to check mine. Used a flashlight to see if there was any growing (no, thank goodness) then put it in the fridge. Holy Cow—had no idea!

  14. I never put my real Maple syrup in the fridge. I just scrape/scoop the mold off the top. It taste fine.

  15. Sally Larson says:

    I just strain my maple syrup through a small fine mesh strainer and it’s fine. Scraping never seems to get it all.

  16. I learned this the expensive way too, at home. I stored my maple syrup alongside my honey and molasses in the pantry. I use the three to make a tasty, relatively inexpensive, and natural carb shot for running. When I found mold, I threw it out, thankfully near the end of the bottle.

  17. Tragic! That happened to us too. 🙁

  18. Yep just figured this one out the hard way. Yuck!

  19. yup found out why mum always kept it in the fridge

  20. My son makes maple syrup in VT. Yes skim off the mold and reboil the maple syrup.

  21. Carolyn says:

    I am from Michigan, too. Many moons ago, I had friends who harvested maple syrup and they gave me a three gallon bucket full. I just skimmed the mold off the top. I never refrigerated it, and it was delicious!

  22. yup, skim it, boil to kill off any missed microbial yuk and allow to cool, then store.

  23. Thanks for this post, I just opened a fairly large jug not 10 minutes ago! Nice to see my son’s school study noted. (Cornell)

  24. cecilia says:

    One way to get it to last a whole lot longer unrefrigerated is to heat the bottle (and contents) before reclosing. This will create a small “canning-like” vacuum. Just place bottle in hot water (boiling if you move contents to canning jars or bottles) then seal with cap and let cool.
    This creates a good enough environment for it to last without mold til the next time you need it. We’ve gone over a month and still had a nice clean vacuum seal and mold free syrup.

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