Southerners know that a well-stocked pantry includes a variety of syrups. While we may like maple for our pancakes, we often prefer other syrups for baking, cooking, and especially for sopping with hot biscuits. Because most syrups can be used interchangeably, the choice pretty much boils down to personal taste. Here are some sweet examples that will certainly get your taste buds going.
Sorghum syrup is often confused with cane syrup, even among Southerners. Sorghum syrup is made by cooking down the juice of sweet sorghum cane; cane syrup is made in much the same manner but from sugar cane. Sorghum syrup tends to have a slightly sour taste compared with that of pure cane syrup. Although syrup production was widespread a century ago, sorghum syrup is now limited to small-batch producers with local distribution channels. Steen’s Syrup Mill in Abbeville, Louisiana, is one of the few remaining producers of pure cane syrup.
Alaga Syrup is cane syrup with a little corn syrup added. This blend, which has been around for a century, has the characteristic color and flavor of cane syrup but the viscosity of corn syrup.
Lighter syrup blends, such as Yellow Label and Golden Eagle, are a mixture of cane syrup, honey, and corn syrup. Often called “table syrups,” these blends and others like them can be used in place of honey or corn syrup.
Molasses results when sugar-cane juice or sugar-beet juice is refined to remove sugar crystals. After the sugar crystallizes, the remaining syrup is molasses. There are several varieties of molasses, but unsulphured and blackstrap are the two most common. Unsulphured molasses is lighter and milder than the blackstrap variety. Because the flavor of molasses is so much stronger and less sweet than that of its other cousins, it is most often used in baking and cooking.
Corn syrup is a derivative of cornstarch. Caramel color, refiners’ syrup (a type of molasses), salt, and a preservative are added to corn syrup to create dark corn syrup. Sometimes called “white corn syrup,” light corn syrup is a mixture of corn syrup, vanilla, and salt. Corn syrup is primarily used in baking in Southern kitchens and has unlimited shelf life whether opened or not. A yellowing of light corn syrup may occur with age but is not considered harmful.
Most syrups, especially those containing corn syrup, can be stored at room temperature. Maple syrup, however, should be refrigerated after the bottle is opened. (Always consult the product’s label to determine if refrigeration is necessary.)
If syrup crystallizes, simply place the bottle or jar in a pan of warm water until the crystals have melted.
Finally…everything I was wondering about syrups is clearly explained for this confused northern girl! Thank you!!
re: May 29, 2014 article/Alaga syrup
I love this stuff and I decided to read more about it online. I came across your article which states “cane syrup with a little corn syrup added.” I think that is technically wrong since the ingredients are listed in this order: corn syrup, cane syrup, water, etc. This would indicate that corn syrup is the predominate component. Despite my nit-picking the product tastes remarkably like cane syrup as that strong taste overwhelms (to me) the “corn” and that is a terrific thing. I live 20 miles west of the Daytona Speedway and I glad to find this wonderful syrup at most every grocery store. Sure glad it still has a following.
DELTA CANE SYRUP RECENTLY HAS A TERRIBLE TASTE IT DOESN’T TASTE LIKE THE SYRUP I GREW UP WITH THE PAST YEAR DELTA SYRUP TASTES LIKE ARTIFICIAL SWEETNER HAS BEEN ADDED IT TASTE LIKE FAT FREE DIET SYRUP PLEASE GO BACK TO THE ORIGINAL TASTE OR I WILL HAVE TO STOP BUYING DELTA SYRUP WHICH HAS ALWAYS BEEN MY FAVORITE SYRUP
Hi! So sorry your favorite syrup isn’t tasting the same. You could try one of the syrups mentioned here as an alternative!
So, is Alaga syrup strong or mild-flavored? I have a coupon & seriously thinking of trying. Can I use it in baking. candy-making, topping hoecakes, griddle cakes, etc.
I don’t know what you mean by “characteristic color & flavor” of cane syrup? I have unsulphered molasses — how is it in comparison? BTW, I’ve had that molasses for over 18 years — don’t have occasion to use much, and it still tastes just fine.
I mix half & half corn syrup with maple. Tastes the same but thicker & pours over waffles nicely!
Great-Grandma always set syrups on her breakfast table: Brer Rabbit Molasses, “white” Karo and maple.
Mom told me family members had preferences. Great Grandma had a set of crystal decanters & silver holder. After breakfast she put cruets of sauces in the holder — Coleman’s mustard, Lea & Perrin’s, & homemade chutney or pickle relish. Without fail! A more genteel time, when little things meant a lot.
Hi! Alaga syrup tastes and looks a lot like cane syrup, but its thickness is more like corn syrup. While it has a molasses-like taste, it’s less bitter. We think it would be great on top of hoecakes or griddle cakes!
Shaun, I use AlaGa in baking all the time, and it is a delicious topping. I am not sure about in candy-making, though. I know when I try to use unrefined sugar in candy-making, it never “clears up” like white sugar does, and it ends up burning due to the extra minerals and such. I have only ever used the clear corn syrup in candy-making for that reason.
My favorite cane syrup is Norris Cane Syrup from West Monroe, LA. It is not as dark and molasses-y tasting as Steen’s. I use AlaGa when I cannot get Norris, but as one commenter already said, your description of AlaGa is incorrect. It is not cane syrup with a little corn syrup added: you got it backwards. It is CORN syrup with a little cane syrup added. It does have a good cane flavor, though, and it will do when I have run out of Norris Cane Syrup. Here in Alabama, there aren’t any stores that sell Norris, so I can only get it when I travel to Mississippi or Louisiana.
You also should have mentioned Lyle’s Golden Syrup from the UK, which is 100% cane syrup, but is very light colored and has a wonderful almost buttery flavor. Lyle’s is a traditional topping for my drop bannocks (Scottish pancakes made with oats). If I am out of my favorite cane syrup, Norris Cane Syrup, for making pecan pies (Norris is darker than Lyle’s but not as dark as Steen’s), I will combine 5 ounces of Lyle’s with 1 ounce of Br’er Rabbit Molasses and get a reasonable approximation of the flavor of Norris Cane Syrup. Lyle’s Golden Syrup is also the traditional ingredient for Treacle Tart, the dessert upon which the Southern Pecan Pie is based!
My favorites are Gilley’s and AlaGa, but you would think South Carolina was above the Mason-Dixon Line because they are so hard to find here! My dad always loved the original Cane Patch Syrup and I grew up eating it on pancakes, waffles and biscuits.
I’m going to ask my local Food Lion if they will consider stocking Gilley’s or AlaGa. I can’t be the only senior citizen in eastern SC that loves and misses cane syrup.