maplebutterCreamy, maple flavored goodness infusing; a perfect accompaniment to homemade barley cakes.

maplebutter barleybreadMaple butter is nothing but maple syrupy goodness. It’s made by heating the syrup to a certain temperature, then whipping it as it cools until it takes on a creamy, buttery texture. There is no actual butter in the ingredients but don’t let that fool you, this stuff is amazing and creamy and scrumptious. Historians believe that, in part, maple butter was created because it made it easier to transport and it increased the shelf life. Raw maple sap and even some grades of syrup are incredibly perishable and by turning it into butter it just gives the maple syrup lover more options.

In the kitchen, maple butter is actually very versatile and can be used anywhere one might use honey, sugar, or syrup. It adds a yummy dimension to dishes both sweet and savory. I made some fried barleycakes and gave them a slather of maple butter and it was seriously heavenlymaplecream. I’ve also used it to roast root vegetables, in lieu of the honey that I typically use. You can make your own maple butter if you have the time and energy to do so. America’s Test Kitchen has a great video on how to make it step by step.

From a health perspective, studies suggest that pure maple syrup is packed with antioxidants and phenolic compounds that help manage things like oxidative stress, systemic inflammation and metabolic function. Research on specific phenolic compounds demonstrate that the chemical composition of genuine maple syrup has an antiproliferative effect on colon cancer cells, while also encouraging defective cells to self-destruct. The caveat? It has to be the real deal; not maple flavored sugar water, which is what many of the cheaper products are. If it says maple flavored, avoid it. The only ingredients on the list for real maple syrup should be, well, maple syrup.