Can You Buy Maple Syrup In Europe? (Fully Explained)

Maple syrup is a beloved condiment in North America, but what about in Europe? Can you find this sweet treat on the shelves of European grocery stores?

While maple syrup is not a common product in Europe, it is available in some specialty shops and online retailers. However, the production and availability of maple syrup in Europe is vastly different from that of North America.

In this article, we’ll explore the history and production of maple syrup, as well as its availability and popularity in Europe. So, grab a stack of pancakes and let’s dive in!

Can You Buy Maple Syrup In Europe?

As mentioned earlier, maple syrup is not a common product in Europe. While it is available in some specialty shops and online retailers, it can be quite expensive and difficult to find.

One TCS member shared their experience of being able to find maple syrup in Bosnia due to the large military presence of the US, but not being able to find it in France. In London, it can be found at Harrods. Denmark was the leading exporter of maple sugar and maple syrup in Europe in 2013, with an export value of approximately 6.3 million Canadian dollars.

So, while it is possible to buy maple syrup in Europe, it may not be readily available or affordable for everyone.

The History And Production Of Maple Syrup

Maple syrup has a rich history dating back to the Indigenous peoples of North America. Native Americans were the first to tap maple trees and extract the sap, which they then boiled down to create a sweet syrup. The practice was later adopted by European settlers who introduced their knowledge of metallurgy, storage, and transportation into the process.

The production of maple syrup begins in late winter and early spring when the sap in the maple trees begins to rise. The trees are tapped by drilling holes into their trunks, and the sap is collected in buckets or tubes that are attached to the trees. The sap is then transported to a “sugar shack” where it is boiled down in large cauldrons. The process of boiling the sap is time-consuming and requires constant stirring to prevent crystallization.

Over time, technological improvements were made to the production process, making it more efficient. In the 1970s, advancements in technology further refined the syrup processing methods. Today, virtually all of the world’s maple syrup is produced in Canada and the United States, with Quebec being the largest producer responsible for 70 percent of the world’s output.

Maple syrup is graded based on its color and taste, with Sucrose being the most prevalent sugar in maple syrup. In Canada, syrups must be made exclusively from maple sap and must be at least 66 percent sugar to qualify as maple syrup. In the United States, a syrup must be made almost entirely from maple sap to be labeled as “maple,” with some states such as Vermont and New York having more restrictive definitions.

Maple syrup has become a popular condiment for breakfast foods such as pancakes, waffles, and French toast. It is also used as an ingredient in baking and as a sweetener or flavoring agent. Despite its popularity, maple syrup is not widely available in Europe and can be quite expensive and difficult to find.

Maple Syrup Availability In Europe

Maple syrup availability in Europe is limited due to the unsuitable climate for maple trees. The weather conditions necessary for sap production are not met in Europe, making it impossible to produce maple syrup. While there are approximately 132 species of maple trees, only three species are predominantly used to produce syrup: the black maple, red maple, and sugar maple. These trees are native to North America and are not commonly found in Europe.

Although maple syrup can be found in some specialty shops and online retailers in Europe, it can be quite expensive and difficult to find. Denmark was the leading exporter of maple sugar and maple syrup in Europe in 2013, with an export value of approximately 6.3 million Canadian dollars. However, this still represents a small fraction of the global annual production of maple syrup, which is presently about 30 million litres, most of it made in Canada.

Differences In Maple Syrup Production Between North America And Europe

Maple syrup production is limited to North America due to the specific weather conditions required for sap to be produced from maple trees. The cold climates in North America allow maple trees to store starch in their trunks and roots before winter, which is then converted to sugar that rises in the sap in late winter and early spring. Maple trees are tapped by drilling holes into their trunks and collecting the sap, which is processed by heating to evaporate much of the water, leaving the concentrated syrup.

In contrast, Europe does not have the right weather conditions conducive to producing meaningful amounts of sap. While maple trees do grow in Europe, Europeans were unaware of the potential uses of the sweet sap until colonists learned how to tap the trees from Native Americans who had long been using maple sap as a sugar source. However, the practice of tapping maple trees was not widely adopted in Europe due to the lack of suitable weather conditions.

Furthermore, there is a centuries-long tradition in North America of making maple syrup by evaporating water from the maple sap. The technology for producing maple syrup is constantly evolving and there are many different options available. In North America, evaporation machinery is often built according to the preferences of individual syrup makers. For example, one can choose an evaporator fired either by wood, gas, oil, or even electricity. It is also possible to use a reverse osmosis machine to remove most of the water from the sap before heat treatment.

European Alternatives To Maple Syrup

If you’re looking for a sweet, natural alternative to maple syrup in Europe, there are a few options to consider. One popular alternative is honey, which is widely available and comes in a variety of flavors. Honey can be used as a topping for pancakes, waffles, and oatmeal, or as a sweetener in baking.

Another option is agave syrup, which is derived from the agave plant and has a similar consistency to maple syrup. Agave syrup has a lower glycemic index than maple syrup and is therefore a better option for those who are watching their blood sugar levels.

Molasses is another natural sweetener that can be used as an alternative to maple syrup. It has a rich, robust flavor and can be used in baking or as a topping for pancakes and waffles.

Finally, if you’re looking for something with a unique flavor, consider birch syrup. Birch syrup is made in the same way as maple syrup, but has a stronger flavor and is about three times the price. It can be found in specialty shops or online retailers.

While maple syrup may not be readily available in Europe, there are plenty of natural alternatives to choose from that can add a touch of sweetness to your favorite dishes.

Recipes And Ideas For Using Maple Syrup In Europe

If you are lucky enough to get your hands on some maple syrup in Europe, there are plenty of delicious recipes and ideas to try out. Here are a few to get you started:

1. French Toast: This classic breakfast dish is loved all over Europe and pairs perfectly with fresh berries and a drizzle of maple syrup.

2. Spicy Maple Portabella Mushroom Jerky: Vegetarians can also enjoy the jerky trend with this recipe that uses toothsome portabella mushrooms and a spicy-sweet marinade made with maple syrup.

3. Maple Glazed Salmon: A popular dish in many European countries, salmon can be marinated or glazed with maple syrup for a sweet and savory flavor.

4. Maple-Glazed Chicken: Chicken is a staple in many European cuisines, and a maple glaze adds a touch of sweetness to this savory protein.

5. Maple Baked Beans: This hearty dish is perfect for chilly evenings and uses white beans cooked with vegetables, herbs, and spices, along with a generous amount of maple syrup for sweetness.

These are just a few ideas to get you started on your maple syrup culinary journey in Europe. Get creative and experiment with using maple syrup in your favorite dishes for a unique twist on classic recipes.