Aunt Jemima syrup is a popular pancake syrup brand that has been around since the late 19th century. Many people wonder if Aunt Jemima syrup is real maple syrup or just a maple flavored syrup. The short answer is that standard Aunt Jemima syrup is not real maple syrup, but the company does make a real maple syrup product under the Aunt Jemima brand.
What is Aunt Jemima syrup?
Standard Aunt Jemima syrup is a blend of corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, sugar, water, salt, and caramel color. It does not contain any real maple syrup. The ingredients produce a thick, sweet syrup that tastes somewhat like maple but is artificially flavored.
Aunt Jemima is not a maple syrup brand. It’s a brand that makes pancake syrups, including maple flavored syrups and corn based syrups. The original Aunt Jemima syrup first introduced in 1889 was a corn syrup based formula. Over the years, the recipe has evolved but standard Aunt Jemima syrup remains a corn syrup based product.
How is Aunt Jemima syrup made?
Aunt Jemima pancake syrup starts with corn syrup, which comes from corn starch. The corn starch is broken down into glucose molecules to make a sweet thick syrup.
High fructose corn syrup is also added to Aunt Jemima’s formula. This is a liquid sweetener made by processing corn starch to yield a high percentage of fructose.
Molasses and sugar add more sweetness and viscosity to the syrup. Small amounts of salt, water, and caramel color are also added to the corn syrup to produce the familiar brown hue and flavor of Aunt Jemima.
Natural and artificial maple flavors are used to make Aunt Jemima taste like maple syrup, even though it contains no real maple.
The ingredients are combined and boiled down into a thick, maple-flavored syrup. Preservatives are added to give it a long shelf life.
What is real maple syrup?
Real maple syrup comes straight from the sap of maple trees. The sap is mostly water with some natural sugar. It is boiled down to evaporate the water, yielding a syrup with high sugar content.
Maple syrup contains no artificial ingredients or additives. The only ingredient is maple sap or maple sugar. It has a characteristically rich, earthy maple flavor that corn syrup based products cannot replicate.
Grades of maple syrup include:
- Grade A Light Amber – Light color and mild maple flavor
- Grade A Medium Amber – Slightly darker color and richer flavor
- Grade A Dark Amber – Robust maple flavor from being boiled longer
- Grade B – Very dark color and strong maple flavor
Real maple syrup also contains beneficial nutrients like manganese, riboflavin, zinc and calcium. It has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that corn syrup lacks.
Overall, real maple syrup is a natural, nutritious product made directly from maple trees. It is more of a whole food compared to the heavily processed corn syrup based Aunt Jemima formula.
Does Aunt Jemima make a real maple syrup?
While standard Aunt Jemima syrup is not maple syrup, the brand does make an authentic maple syrup product called Aunt Jemima Original Maple Syrup.
This syrup is 100% real maple syrup, made by boiling down pure maple sap into syrup. It contains no artificial ingredients or syrup substitutes. The only ingredient is maple sap.
So while their traditional syrup is not real maple, Aunt Jemima does produce an authentic maple syrup option for consumers who want the real thing.
You have to read the label closely to know which Aunt Jemima syrup you are buying. If the only ingredient is maple syrup or maple sap, then you have the real, 100% maple syrup. If it contains corn syrup, sugar, and artificial flavors, it is the standard maple-flavored Aunt Jemima formula.
When it comes to nutrition, real maple syrup provides more benefits compared to Aunt Jemima’s imitation syrup:
|Nutrient||Aunt Jemima (1/4 cup)||Pure maple syrup (1/4 cup)|
|Manganese||0% DV||42% DV|
|Riboflavin||0% DV||14% DV|
|Zinc||0% DV||12% DV|
|Calcium||0% DV||10% DV|
While both syrups have similar amounts of calories and sugar, real maple syrup contains more beneficial vitamins and minerals. It provides decent amounts of manganese, riboflavin, zinc and calcium.
Aunt Jemima has zero nutritional value beyond simple calories and carbohydrates. So while not a huge difference, maple syrup is nutritionally superior.
Maple syrup grades
Maple syrup is classified into different grades based on color and flavor:
Grade A maple syrup comes in three color classes:
- Light Amber – Light golden color, delicate maple flavor
- Medium Amber – Slightly darker color, richer maple taste
- Dark Amber – Robust maple flavor, produced from sap boiled longer
Grade A is the most common grade found on store shelves. It has a light, pure maple taste.
Grade B maple syrup is very dark with a strong, hearty maple flavor. It is made from sap that was boiled for longer, caramelizing the sugars.
Grade B has a much stronger maple taste. It is excellent for baking and cooking where you want the maple flavor to come through.
The grade has minimal effect on nutrition. All grades of pure maple syrup have similar nutrition profiles.
The main difference comes down to flavor:
- Lighter grades have a delicate maple taste.
- Darker grades have a robust, molasses-like maple flavor.
So it comes down to personal taste preference. Light amber works well for drizzling over pancakes or oatmeal. Dark amber is best for maple-flavored recipes.
One of the benefits of Aunt Jemima syrup is that it costs significantly less than real maple syrup.
A 24 oz bottle of Aunt Jemima Original syrup costs around $2.50. The same amount of real maple syrup costs $15 to $20.
This huge price difference stems from:
- Corn syrup costs much less to make than boiling maple sap into syrup.
- Maple syrup production is small scale and artisanal compared to mass produced corn syrup.
- It takes 40 gallons of maple sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup.
The bottom line is Aunt Jemima provides a cheap, maple-flavored product. Real maple syrup costs more because it takes much more effort to produce and is sold in small batches.
But many feel the superior nutrition profile and true maple flavor of real maple syrup justifies the higher cost. It depends on your budget and preferences.
When it comes to taste, there is no comparison between real maple syrup and Aunt Jemima’s imitation syrup.
Here is how standard Aunt Jemima and real maple syrup stack up in taste tests:
- Aunt Jemima has a very dark brown color from added caramel coloring.
- Maple syrup ranges from light golden to dark amber brown depending on grade.
- Aunt Jemima is slightly thinner than maple syrup.
- Maple syrup has a silky, viscous texture.
- Aunt Jemima has a subtle maple-like flavor.
- Maple syrup has a complex, rich maple taste.
- Aunt Jemima tastes very sweet from added corn syrup and sugar.
- Maple syrup has a balanced sweetness along with the maple flavor.
- Aunt Jemima feels smooth and thin.
- Maple syrup has more body and leaves a slight tacky feel.
- Aunt Jemima has a mild sweet aftertaste.
- Maple lingers with a rich maple flavor.
When drizzled on pancakes or french toast, the differences in color, texture, and flavor are very apparent. The authentic maple flavor comes through clearly in real maple syrup.
While Aunt Jemima tastes decent, it cannot truly replicate the complexity of real maple syrup.
Uses for maple syrup vs. Aunt Jemima
Maple syrup and Aunt Jemima syrup can be used similarly in recipes, but there are some differences:
Pancakes and waffles
- Both work well drizzled over pancakes, waffles, and french toast.
- Maple syrup is better for absorbing into waffle pockets and pancake crevices.
- If aunt Jemima is used, you may need to add even more to get strong maple flavor.
Oatmeal and porridge
- Maple syrup blends into oatmeal seamlessly.
- Aunt Jemima tends to just coat oatmeal instead of infusing it with flavor.
- Maple syrup works great in things like maple cookies or muffins.
- Aunt Jemima can be used but may not impart much maple flavor.
Glazes and sauces
- Pure maple syrup makes amazing salad dressings, barbecue sauces, and glazes.
- Aunt Jemima would likely get lost among other ingredients.
Coffee and tea
- A bit of maple syrup can enhance coffee or tea.
- Aunt Jemima’s flavor gets drowned out in hot drinks.
- Maple syrup makes tasty smoothies, milkshakes, or lattes.
- Aunt Jemima works but you need to add a lot to taste it.
The key thing to remember is that maple syrup packs a robust, pure maple flavor. Aunt Jemima has a weaker maple taste, so you need extra to get that flavor to come through.
Which is healthier?
When it comes to health and nutrition, pure maple syrup is clearly the better choice over Aunt Jemima’s imitation syrup.
Here are some reasons why maple syrup is healthier:
- Higher in vitamins and minerals – Maple syrup contains actual nutrients like manganese, zinc, calcium and riboflavin. Aunt Jemima has none.
- Less processed – Maple syrup has one ingredient – maple sap. Aunt Jemima is heavily processed.
- No artificial ingredients – Maple syrup is all natural. Aunt Jemima contains artificial colors and flavors.
- More antioxidants – Maple syrup contains beneficial plant compounds. Aunt Jemima does not.
- Lower glycemic index – Maple syrup affects blood sugar less drastically than straight corn syrup.
The only advantage of Aunt Jemima is that it is lower in calories and sugar when used sparingly. But overall, real maple syrup is a clear winner in the health department.
When it comes to environmental sustainability, maple syrup also has advantages over Aunt Jemima syrup:
- Small scale production – Maple syrup comes from small sugar shacks not large factories.
- Sustainable harvesting – Tapping maple trees for sap does not harm the trees.
- Limited processing – Maple syrup production requires minimal processing and energy.
- Reusable containers – Maple syrup often comes in reusable glass jugs.
- Biodegradable – Pure maple syrup is fully biodegradable.
Meanwhile, Aunt Jemima requires:
- Intensive agriculture to grow GMO corn on massive industrial farms.
- Heavy processing to turn corn into high fructose corn syrup.
- Factories and manufacturing plants to blend syrup formula.
- Plastic packaging that creates more waste.
So from an eco-friendly perspective, maple syrup is generally regarded as the more sustainable choice over mass produced corn syrup blends.
Is maple syrup better than honey?
Maple syrup and honey are two all-natural liquid sweeteners. Which one is healthier?
Here is a comparison:
- Maple syrup is about 60% sucrose.
- Honey is around 80% simple sugars.
So honey is slightly higher in sugar and calories.
- Pure maple syrup GI = 54
- Honey GI = 58
Maple syrup has a slightly lower glycemic index, meaning less of an impact on blood sugar.
- Maple syrup has more minerals like manganese, calcium and potassium.
- Honey contains more B vitamins.
They both provide antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds.
- Maple syrup has a distinct maple flavor.
- Honey takes on floral flavors based on its origin.
It comes down to personal taste preference.
Overall, maple syrup and honey are comparable health-wise. Maple syrup may have slightly lower GI and more minerals, but honey contains more vitamins. Both can be used moderately as part of an overall healthy diet.
- Standard Aunt Jemima syrup is not real maple syrup, but a corn syrup based formula with artificial maple flavoring.
- Real maple syrup comes straight from the sap of maple trees and contains beneficial nutrients.
- Maple syrup has a noticeably richer maple taste compared to Aunt Jemima.
- Pure maple syrup is clearly healthier and more natural than a processed corn syrup blend.
- However, Aunt Jemima is significantly cheaper for consumers on a budget.
While Aunt Jemima makes a decent pancake topping, pure maple syrup is ultimately the better choice in terms of both nutrition and delicious maple flavor. When you want the real thing, look for “100% Pure Maple Syrup” on the label and expect to pay higher prices for this gourmet artisanal product.