Maple sugar is the sugar obtained from maple syrup. Maple syrup is a sweetener that is derived from the sap of the maple tree, more commonly from the red, black, and the sugar maple tree. Usually, the sap of the sugar maple tree is clear and very low in sugar content. But when the sap is boiled, water evaporates from it, and as a result it turns into a viscous, amber-colored syrup.
If the syrup is boiled further, eventually all water evaporates leaving behind solid sugar granules. Maple sugar is mainly sucrose, though a small amount of glucose and fructose can also be found in it. Today, this sugar is used as a food additive in a number of maple products. There is no good substitute for this sugar, though a few other sweeteners can be used in its place while cooking.
The ordinary white sugar made from sugar cane juice can be used as an alternative to maple sugar. But maple sugar is twice as sweet as ordinary sugar, which needs to be kept in mind while substituting one for the other. Another alternative is light brown sugar. Sometimes, maple syrup can also be used to substitute this sweetener. Apart from these, sucanat and date sugar are two other important substitutes.
Sucanat can be termed as a non-refined or minimally processed version of cane sugar. For making sucanat, the sugar cane juice is simply heated, and then allowed to cool down. This leads to the formation of small, brown-colored granulated crystals or sucanat. So, sucanat is basically dried sugar cane juice. Due to minimal processing, sucanat retains the natural molasses. On the other hand, refined white sugar loses most of its molasses content while going through the refining process.
Date sugar is quite different from other sugars. It is basically finely chopped pieces of dry or dehydrated dates. In other words, date sugar is not a processed sugar, for which many prefer to use it. However, it tends to form clumps, and does not melt properly. For this reason, it is usually not considered suitable for sweetening beverages, and for baking. But it can be used to substitute of maple sugar in recipes that do not require the sugar to melt.
Is Maple Sugar Good for You?
As has been mentioned already, this sweetener is primarily sucrose. About 1 teaspoon of maple sugar contains approximately 11 calories. The refined white sugar is also sucrose, but 1 teaspoon of white sugar usually contains 15 calories. Generally, maple syrup is considered to have a number of health benefits due to the presence of some minerals, like manganese, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. The pure maple sugar also contains some B vitamins, and a few minerals, such as manganese, potassium, and calcium. It is a minimally processed sweetener, for which many people consider it as a healthier alternative to refined sugar.
Though maple sugar is mainly sucrose, it has a much stronger flavor than the refined white sugar. As a sweetener, it is added to maple products, but can also be used in a variety of baked goods, cereals, pudding, desserts, brownies, and cookies. In other words, it can be used much like the ordinary sugar. When you cannot find this sugar, you can use light brown sugar, sucanat, date sugar, and even ordinary white sugar as substitutes.