Syrup is the worlds most popular topping for pancakes, waffles, French toast and it is used for many different cooking purposes. There are so many different flavors and types of syrup that it is almost too hard to resist it! Most people have a bottle of syrup in their refrigerators or cabinets if not more than one. And of course, there is always the discrepancy amongst family and friends on what the proper place to store it is. Some people like their syrup cold and some people like it warm. For arguments sake, you will enjoy learning that you are both right in your storage preferences and really it is just a matter of liking it warm or cold that will set you and your peers apart.
In this article we are going to learn about what each storage temperature has to do with the preservation of syrup, what happens to your syrup after an extended period of time, what those annoying little hard balls are at the bottom of your syrup container and how they got there and how you can use them to your advantage, and also find out just how long you can keep your syrup!
All food’s and condiments have expiration dates, but you may notice that your syrup does not. You might see a “best by” date, but that doesn’t mean you have to throw it away after it reaches it. Syrup is a food that is known to “be good” indefinitely. There are ways to preserve syrup for the long run, and it lasts a long time on its own.
You don’t see an expiration date because Syrup has no expiration. Syrup, just like honey, has a high sugar content and a low moisture content material which means it is especially hard for bacteria to grow there. Even if you leave a bottle of maple syrup open on your shelf, it won’t go bad. (Although you will probably get ants and fly’s) If you do leave your syrup open on the shelf, it can grow mold. But this isn’t the kind of mold that will ruin your food. It actually doesn’t affect the syrup and you can remove it and still use your syrup. So, if you found some open syrup that you forgot about, don’t worry! You will still be able to use it.
* Remember! This applies to PURE Maple Syrup ONLY.
What kind of mold is it?
The kind of mold that grows on syrup isn’t actually considered a mold. It is a fungus that is called a Xerophile. Xerophiles grow in places that are too dry a hostile for normal bacteria or fungus. Since there is such a high sugar content in syrup, and the water content is so low, the bacteria just wont grow there. Yes, syrup is wet and yes, bacteria does like water in smaller quantities for growth, but syrups sugar content actually is undesirable for bacteria.
There is one fungus, however, that doesn’t seem to mind. Wallemia sebi. This mold is so unique, scientists have given it its own class: Wallemiomycetes. This bacterium is so different because it grows where most others cannot. Most molds grow in places that have an available water content above .9 out of 1.0, Syrup is in between .87-.88. That may not seem likes such a big difference, but when it comes to mold and fungus it is. Wallemia sebi is one of the very very few fungi that can grow in this range. The Wallemia sebi is not a fuzzy looking mold like you see on your fruit. You should see little round spores, and that’s about it. The important thing to know about Wallemia sebi is that it is a non-toxic fungus that is safe to consume (although it is not recommended because it does not taste very good).
How to Remove Syrup Mold
First things first, this isn’t recommended however it is possible. You need to make sure you remove all of the spores and be very meticulous. Although the fungus that grows on syrup is non-toxic, it is very distasteful.
The way to remove the mold from the syrup Is a little involved, but hey, you won’t be wasting a whole jar of syrup.
To remove the mold, the first thing you need to do is take the top layer off the syrup that has the mold on it.
Next you need to empty the syrup into a container and heat it up either on the stove or in the microwave to its boiling point. This will kill off all of the mold spores that are still present inside the syrup.
Next you will want to skim through the heated-up syrup so that you catch any other lingering bits of mold.
Reheat the syrup one more time, and then it is ready to use.
Please note that your syrup will differ in taste and loose a lot of its flavor this way. It may also smell a little sour from fermentation. It can also smell like yeast or just smell funny in general.
When you attempt to boil mold out of your syrup, keep in mind that sugar burns very easily. You will have to keep moving your syrup around at a low to medium heat to ensure that you won’t burn it. You can tell the syrup has burned mainly by the smell and the color. It will turn dark and smell very strong.
What if my syrup isn’t pure maple syrup?
If you have syrup that isn’t pure maple, it is most likely made of flavored corn syrup. Just as well as pure maple syrup, pancake syrup does not spoil. It features the same properties of water content just like pure maple syrup. Unlike maple syrup however, you don’t have to keep your pancake syrup in the fridge. Pure maple syrup will get moldy quicker if you leave it in an unrefrigerated environment.
What happens if my maple syrup crystallizes?
Crystallizing is something that happens to sugar if it wasn’t heated to the right temperature when it was initially produced. Crystals can also form if the syrup if it has been sitting in the same temperature room for too long or has been switched to a new temperature storage randomly. Crystals do not harm your syrup; they are simply just pieces of sugar that have hardened back to their original state.
You can reheat your syrup to get rid of/ re-melt the crystals, however every time you heat up your syrup you are sacrificing some of the flavor to the heat. The best thing to do is just use the syrup and move the crystals out of the way and not bother with them. You will also need to be wary of burning the sugar crystals if you plan to reheat them. Sugar burns very easily, and it will also burn your skin very badly too if you get some on you. Be very careful!
If you have purchased a large supply of syrup and want to prevent it from crystallizing or molding, we recommend putting the syrup in the freezer. Although syrup does not freeze, it will keep the flavor of the syrup intact for as long as it is in there and protects it from growing sugar crystals. The temperature also provides even more dryness to the syrup, so you won’t have to worry about bacteria growing on it and forming mold.
If you have used all the syrup and have just crystals left, you can use the crystals to your advantage and make some rock candy! Some people take the crystals out and use them as a topper for cupcakes, cookies, cheesecake, pies and other sweet desserts to give a little texture. They are very tasty and sweet and definitely don’t have to be wasted.
How is maple syrup collected?
Maple Syrup is tapped from maple trees. To tap the tree, you need to drill about an inch to an inch and a half into the tree at an angle. Then you insert a tap into the hole and put a bucket underneath it. The sap will just start to drip out of the tap.
After you’ve collected all of your maple sap, you need to boil it for 12-14 hours and pour it through a doubled-up coffee filter. Then, you’re done!
It will take about ten gallons of maple tree sap to make just 4 cups of maple syrup. This is because you boil out most of the water content.
So, what is the best way to store my syrup?
If you are like me, you are one of those people that always stores their syrup in the cupboard instead of the fridge and can’t stand when you are eating at someone else’s house and have to use cold syrup on your pancakes. If you aren’t like me, maybe you think exactly the opposite.
The truth of the matter is, either is correct. You can store opened syrup on a shelf in the cupboard or your kitchen cabinet for a whole year or even longer if it is unopened. If you have pure maple syrup, this will grow mold faster than pancake syrups in the cabinet. It is best to store your pure maple syrup in the refrigerator if you plan on prolonging its life.
By storing syrup in the fridge, you are basically just preserving it longer. If you plan on consuming all of your syrup within a year, there is no need to store it in the fridge.
If you have a surplus of syrup and want to save it for future use, you can put it in the freezer. It wont actually freeze but it will keep it cool and dry enough that all bacteria will not be able to grow there.
So, you have your answer. Maple Syrup and Pancake Syrup do not “go bad”. They grow a fungus that is not harmful to consume that can be removed so you can use the rest of the syrup in the container. It can also form crystals that can be eaten around or melted. You can also use the crystals as an ingredient in other delicious desserts. If you have pure Maple Syrup it is best to store in a refrigerator after opening, or if you have pancake syrup it is best to store in a cupboard or kitchen cabinet. You can also put your syrup in the freezer to prolong its ability to resist growing fungus.
So, enjoy your syrup whenever you please! If its moldy, don’t worry. And if you have tons of it, save it! Syrup is like honey and it is a miracle food that just wont go bad like other foods and retains its wonderful sweet taste for a very long time.