Does Pancake Syrup Need to be Refrigerated?

If your family is anything like my family, you go through your fair share of syrup for pancakes, waffles, French toast, and similar breakfast goodies. There is nothing quite like making a big stack of pancakes on a griddle during a lazy weekend, or waking up on a snowy morning and heating up the waffle iron for a breakfast that rivals what we might make at a hotel.

Of course, syrup are butter are the necessary components for most pancakes, waffles, and French toast, unless you’re opting for toppings that are less traditional such as a fruit and whipped cream. But not all syrups are the same, and each type of syrup has its own storage requirements.

So should you store pancake syrup in the refrigerator or in the pantry? Here’s what you should know.

A Tale of Two Syrups

There are two types of syrup you’ll typically see in stores or at restaurants, and my family is divided on which type tastes the best.

Most of my family prefers what we call the “fake” syrup, or the standard stuff you see on most grocery store shelves. This syrup is not actually real maple syrup. Instead, it’s maple-flavored corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup with maple flavoring and added coloring. You might also see it referred to as imitation syrup, table syrup, breakfast syrup, or pancake syrup. Notice it doesn’t have “maple” in the name. When you order breakfast at a restaurant, this is usually what’s in the bottle they set on your table. It’s cheap and easy to manufacture, and it tastes good, even if it’s highly processed and not all that great for you.

I, on the other hand, prefer real 100% pure maple syrup. This is the real deal: the stuff that actually comes out of sugar maple trees as sap and is boiled down to form a sweet syrup. You can find pure maple syrup at most grocery stores, but the bottles of corn syrup-based fake stuff far outnumber the real maple syrup. Real maple syrup is more labor-intensive to produce, so it costs more at the store. However, if you’re a food purist, it might be worth it. Real maple syrup tends to have a sweeter, richer flavor than the corn-based syrups, and as a result you might not need to use as much to flavor your flapjacks. Real maple syrup also has a thinner, runnier consistency than imitation or table syrup.

No matter what type of syrup you like to pour on your breakfast, you may wonder where the ideal spot to store your syrup is. The fridge or the pantry? It turns out, the answer depends on what type of syrup you use.

Should I Refrigerate Pancake Syrup?

This question has a different answer based on whether you use pure maple syrup or “fake” syrup.

You should always follow the directions on your syrup bottle, but in general the following advice applies:

If you use corn syrup-based maple-flavored syrup or imitation syrup, the answer is no, you do not have to refrigerate artificial syrup.

If you use 100% pure real maple syrup, the answer is yes, you should refrigerate real maple syrup after opening a new bottle. 

Why the difference?

Imitation syrup or table syrup that is made with corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup is shelf stable even after opening a brand new bottle. In fact, my bottles of imitation syrup purchased at Aldi specifically say they do not need refrigeration after opening. You do not need to store table syrup in the refrigerator. I store this type of syrup in my pantry.

In contrast, pure maple syrup is a different product all together. It is often sold sealed and at room temperature, and the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association says that unopened maple syrup will last indefinitely, but once opened it should be refrigerated. That’s because real syrup is a natural product and contains no preservatives. I usually purchase real maple syrup from Aldi, and the bottle states to refrigerate it after opening. In addition, for long-term storage, you can actually put real maple syrup in the freezer. The Vermont Maple Sugar Makers’ Association states that maple syrup keeps it best flavor when stored in the freezer, and it will not freeze solid.

So again, whether your syrup needs refrigeration depends on what kind you use. Pure, real maple syrup should go in the fridge after opening. Imitation or table syrup made from corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup can be stored in the pantry.

Either way, enjoy your breakfast or brunch!

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