Moldy Maple Syrup

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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  • Greg McCombie
    Posted at 13 March 2015 Reply

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

  • Leigh Ann Bishop Long
    Posted at 13 March 2015 Reply

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

  • Helen Bell
    Posted at 13 March 2015 Reply

    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 😉

  • Mary Watson
    Posted at 13 March 2015 Reply

    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
      Posted at 10 August 2015 Reply

      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!!!!!

  • Mark and Cindy - s/v Cream Puff
    Posted at 13 March 2015 Reply

    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.”

  • Beth Burlingame
    Posted at 13 March 2015 Reply

    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!

    • The Boat Galley
      Posted at 13 March 2015 Reply

      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.

      • Marie H
        Posted at 19 March 2015 Reply

        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?

  • Lynn Kaak
    Posted at 13 March 2015 Reply

    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.

  • Kristi Thomason
    Posted at 13 March 2015 Reply

    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.

  • Tony Gariepy
    Posted at 13 March 2015 Reply

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

  • Barb
    Posted at 13 March 2015 Reply

    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.

  • Terri Zorn
    Posted at 13 March 2015 Reply

    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.

  • Vala Richmond
    Posted at 13 March 2015 Reply

    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!

  • Claire Ford
    Posted at 13 March 2015 Reply

    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!

  • June Stein Kelly
    Posted at 14 March 2015 Reply

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

  • Sally Larson
    Posted at 17 March 2015 Reply

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

  • Alex
    Posted at 17 March 2015 Reply

    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.

  • Mike Sweeney
    Posted at 14 May 2016 Reply

    Tragic! That happened to us too. 🙁

  • Wendy Mackey Evans
    Posted at 14 May 2016 Reply

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

  • Red Canoe
    Posted at 15 May 2016 Reply

    yup found out why mum always kept it in the fridge

  • Peggy Gorham Buckingham
    Posted at 15 May 2016 Reply

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

  • Carolyn
    Posted at 15 May 2016 Reply

    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!

  • Tony Gariepy
    Posted at 15 May 2016 Reply

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

  • Paul
    Posted at 15 May 2016 Reply

    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)

  • cecilia
    Posted at 15 May 2016 Reply

    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.

  • Bob Viscount
    Posted at 13 June 2017 Reply

    Hello and thank you for the Boat Galley
    At home I keep maple syrup in the freezer, if the water content is correct it will not freeze. As has been described, you can reseal the jar or container or you can just boil and rejar every few weeks without refrigeration. If there are signs of mold, scrape before boiling and change jars. Down in Florida all you will get is # 1 clear, but the best is # 2 dark at the bottom of the boiler.
    Bob V.

  • Brenda H
    Posted at 13 June 2017 Reply

    Another option for long term storage on the boat is granulated maple sugar which you add water as needed to make the desired syrup quantity as you go.

    • Carolyn Shearlock
      Posted at 14 June 2017 Reply

      You can just sprinkle it over your pancakes, too!

      • Brenda H
        Posted at 14 June 2017 Reply

        Yes! And in oartmeal, etc.

  • Cathy Berry
    Posted at 16 June 2017 Reply

    As a long time New Englander, maple syrup molds, but we strain and boil to get the mold out. Boiling makes the syrup stronger flavored, so no big deal there. Not a big deal.
    Agree with the honey people – it’s bullet proof!!!

  • Cheryl Frederick
    Posted at 17 June 2017 Reply

    I agree with Cecelia. We made syrup from sap. An older canning book, Ball or Kerr, suggested the same as she.. To prevent crystallization, periodically tip your container top to bottom a couple of times. If we ran out, the brown sugar and maple syrup alternative that Kristi mentions is what my mother used as well! Cooks Pure Maple Extract ingredients: alcohol, sugar, pure maple syrup, caramel color, and water. It’s kosher, gluten free, allergen free, and non-GMO. You only need a couple drops. Also each time you heat real maple syrup, the color naturally darkens some, with the flavor becoming more intense – – probably from becoming more condensed? That’s why when I buy real maple syrup now, I don’t purchase the “light-colored” syrups.

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