Quantity changes everything. With five dollars in your pocket, every expense is carefully considered; with a couple hundred readily available, a $2 item is an easy impulse buy. Abundance and scarcity both change your perspective on the world, and things that never would have been previously considered – splurging on Champagne or clipping coupons, depending on your end of the feast or famine scale – can suddenly become your new reality.
In kitchen terms, buying your flour in 20 kg bags instead of 2.5 kg bags changes the way you see the ingredient. And if you see an ingredient differently – cheaper, more plentiful – you’ll change the way you use it.
I love maple syrup. How much do I love it? At my last office, I kept a couple bottles of maple syrup in the fridge – a light and an amber – just in case a tea or coffee needed extra special sweetening or a pancake breakfast suddenly broke out. I live in Calgary, home of the Calgary Stampede – less than seven months away, by the way – so pancake breakfasts can and do pop up when you least expect them.
As much as I love it, maple syrup is expensive. I’m not a rich man, so spending $8 on a 250 mL bottle means you ration the stuff, saving it for perfect-fit tasks (pancakes! waffles! french toast!) when only maple syrup will do.
But what if you could buy 1 litre for $13? Kind of changes things, doesn’t it? Buying maple syrup in a Costco-sized quantity at a crazy cheap price opens the door to using it in ways that would have seemed extravagant before.
This Kirkland Signature maple syrup (the Costco house brand) is a standard, multipurpose “medium” maple syrup, the most universal and flexible of the range. Unlike some of the lighter grades, you can taste the maple, and unlike some of the darker grades, the maple isn’t overwhelming. (Have you ever tried dark maple syrup? The closest common flavour equivalent is probably molasses.)
So what to do with this bounty? If you’ve scored a cheap and plentiful supply at Costco, here are a few suggestions. Recipes can be easily found via Google once you know what you’re looking for.
- Glaze veggies: When roasting veggies like carrots or potatoes, try a basic maple syrup glaze before popping them back in the oven. Works especially well with garlic and lemon flavours.
- Sweeten drinks: Try a little pour in your coffee or tea in place of sugar or honey. It can brighten a cup of coffee that’s dull and flat. A little bit goes a long way.
- Vinaigrettes and dressings: Maple is a great flavour on greens. Add some to a homemade balsamic vinaigrette, or mix it with a neutral oil, a fruit vinegar and some herbs. The important part is to get the oil to acid to sweetener ratio right. Recipes are plentiful online.
- Yogurt, smoothie or parfait sweetener: If you need some sweetness to balance out a tart yogurt or under-ripe fruit, mix in a bit of maple syrup.
- Tire d’érable: This Québécois delicacy is also known as maple taffy. All you need is a lot of maple syrup, some fresh snow and a sweet tooth. It’s easy to make: cook the syrup, pour a portion of it on some snow in a straight line, then use a popsicle stick to roll it up as it cools and hardens. (For precise temperatures, check the interwebs.)
- Maple butter: Make your own at home and spread it on everything from scones to pancakes to toast.
- Maple syrup pie: Another traditional Québécois treat. Similar to sugar pie, but with maple syrup as the base instead of brown sugar. Just because maple is a natural sweetener doesn’t mean this is a healthy dessert.
- Maple fudge: Makes a nice gift during the holiday season.
Any other suggestions, friendly readers? Leave a comment below to share your own favourite uses for maple syrup.
RATINGS AND DETAILS
Cost: $12.89 for a 1 litre jug at Costco in Calgary.
Value for cash money: Not as cheap as pancake syrup, but still affordable. If you’re not a Costco member, I’ve seen other grocery stores in Calgary that carry 1 litre jugs of medium maple syrup for not a whole lot more. $16, say.
Nutrition?: Per 1/4 cup (60 mL): 210 calories, 0 grams of fat, 1 mg of sodium, 0 grams of fibre, 0 grams of protein.
The verdict: Delicious. And at that price, the possibilities suddenly multiply.