Starting the day with a hardy breakfast of waffles or pancakes will fuel you up for hours, but your maple syrup doesn’t look quite right. Upon further inspection, you realize it’s moldy. Can you still eat the maple syrup in this bottle? Why did it go moldy in the first place, and how do you prevent mold from growing in your maple syrup in the future?
Mold found in maple syrup should not be eaten as it can negatively impact your health. However, the mold can be safely removed by scraping off the top layer of syrup and discarding it. Once the mold is removed, the remaining maple syrup will be perfectly safe to consume.
This guide will explore mold on maple syrup, providing you with all the information you need to know. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know what causes maple syrup mold, how to identify it, how to remove it, and how to prevent it from coming back.
Why Does Maple Syrup Go Moldy?
Maple syrup goes moldy for the same reason that many foods do: it’s a source of moisture!
Syrup may taste sweet, but the maple variety has more water than you might expect. The fungi that cause mold find water irresistible, so it’s lured into that bottle of maple syrup. Before you know it, mold spores spread.
The sugar concentrations in maple syrup can act as a deterrent to mold to a degree, but not enough to completely prevent mold. Mold just occurs less often in maple syrup compared to other foods.
What Does Mold in Maple Syrup Look Like?
You’ll see mold lingering on the surface of the maple syrup jar or bottle, in terms of color, the strains of mold you most often find growing on maple syrup can vary, sometimes appearing as white, off-white, black, grey, or blue to bluey-green.
The texture is often described as being velvety, powdery, or in some circumstances for advanced mold growth, even slimy. Yes, it’s all unappetizing, we know, but you must have a mental picture so you’re aware of what to look out for.
What Kinds of Mold Grow on Maple Syrup?
You think your maple syrup has mold, but you’re not exactly sure if that’s what you’re looking at. What types of mold affect maple syrup?
It’s not just one type of fungus but several, so let’s take a closer look.
By far, the most frequent culprit of mold in maple syrup is Eurotium herbariorum, also known as Aspergillus glaucus. This fungus can handle extremes so it can survive in conditions that other mold cannot.
The next type of fungus that can affect maple syrup is Penicillin chrysogenum. Interestingly, this fungus mostly prefers salted foods but clearly can make exceptions for some sweet foods since it grows on syrup.
Aspergillus penicillioides doesn’t need water to propagate (making it xerophilic), but it’s fine with the semi-watery conditions of maple syrup. This mold also spreads through house dust and indoor air.
Continuing down the list, the Aspergillus restrictus can also cause mold in maple syrup. It too is a xenophilic fungus that appears in house dust.
Although the Aspergillus versicolor fungus grows slowly, it still prefers food products aplenty, which is reason enough to give you pause. The fungi can also grow mold in damp environments in your home.
Can You Get Sick from Mold in Maple Syrup?
Although the mold that prefers to spread in maple syrup should be non-toxic, that doesn’t mean ingestion is the best decision.
No healthy diet includes mold, so if you see it, ideally, you shouldn’t eat it. Consuming enough mold could cause nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.
These symptoms won’t persist for long but will certainly disrupt your day!
If you’re allergic to mold, you must stay away from it in all circumstances, including eating it or breathing it in.
What If You Find Black Mold in Your Maple Syrup?
Black mold doesn’t often grow on maple syrup, but it’s not entirely outside of the realm of possibility, either. If not mold, then the black stuff you see in your syrup could be oxidation.
Either way, you have two choices, to remove the mold (or oxidation) from the maple syrup or throw the jar or bottle away and start over.
How to Remove Mold from Maple Syrup
Fortunately, if you’ve confirmed the presence of mold in your bottle of maple syrup, you needn’t go to great lengths to remove it.
Simply take a clean spoon, dip it into the jar or bottle of syrup, and scoop out the mold.
Since mold only grows on the top surface of maple syrup and not deeper into the jar or bottle, once you scrape the top clean, you can rest assured the mold is gone.
Don’t try to hold onto the moldy maple syrup. Just dump it into the garbage can.
Does that method sound a bit too messy for you? Alternatively, you can also pour the maple syrup through a cheesecloth and into a clean, large bowl. The cheesecloth will catch the mold. You can re-pour the syrup back into the bottle when you’re done.
How Common Is Mold in Maple Syrup?
Mold doesn’t frequently occur in maple syrup. In fact, this might be the first you’ve heard of it. The reason is that although maple syrup does contain water, it has a low rate of water activity.
Bacterial microbes and fungi need water activity to grow and spread. The lower the rate of activity, the less potent the food is for mold growth.
Since maple syrup contains a decent amount of water, its water activity rate is never zero, so mold will sometimes grow.
How to Store Maple Syrup to Prevent Mold
To prevent future instances of mold, how you store your maple syrup matters! Let’s talk about the proper storage for unopened and opened syrup bottles.
Unopened Maple Syrup Bottles
If you have yet to use maple syrup, you can store it in your kitchen pantry. Keep it in a dark, cool environment to prevent the propagation of mold.
Make sure you use the bottle within a year!
Opened Maple Syrup Bottles
Once you open your bottle of maple syrup, don’t put it back in your pantry. Instead, stash it in the fridge or freezer.
Cold temperatures can stagnate mold growth, keeping your maple syrup clear, viscous, and amber-like to use for a long time to come, even if you opened it and are currently enjoying it.
In the fridge, maple syrup stays good for about a year. For an opened item, a year to use it isn’t bad!
If you’ve chosen to freeze your maple syrup, it’s good indefinitely.
When the time comes to use your frozen syrup, take it out of the freezer and stash it in the fridge the night before you want to use it. Then, on the day of use, remove the syrup from the fridge and let it thaw on the counter for a few hours.
Does Mold Affect the Quality of Maple Syrup?
Maple syrup quality is something manufacturers are so fanatical about that they assign the syrup grades. Syrup can achieve the following grades: Very Dark, Dark, Amber, or Golden.
Very Dark maple syrup has a strong, robust flavor and dark color. You get the most maple flavor out of this grade.
Dark maple syrup is lighter than Very Dark-graded syrup but still dark, with a subtler but still strong, enduring flavor.
Amber maple syrup has a beautiful color and mid-intensity flavor. It’s the classic maple syrup that most consumers want.
Then there’s Golden maple syrup, a light-colored syrup with vanilla flavor notes and just some maple taste.
No matter the grade of maple syrup, mold in the syrup absolutely affects its quality.
That said, mold in your syrup doesn’t have to ruin your breakfast or your day. You can remove the mold from the top surface without throwing away the entire jar or bottle!
Mold on maple syrup isn’t incredibly common, but it can happen since syrup contains a decent amount of water. The mold will appear nearer the top of the syrup, so you only need a spoon to remove it.
Refrigerating or freezing maple syrup, especially after opening it, can curtail mold development. Although removing mold from maple syrup is easy, if you feel more comfortable tossing the rest of the syrup, that’s certainly a health-conscious choice!