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What is Maple Extract?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated May 16, 2024
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Maple extract is one of a group of concentrated flavorings used in food preparation. As with essences, liquid extracts can be kept indefinitely when stored in an airtight container in a cool dark place. This is why extracts are often sold in very dark brown bottles.

There are four different types of maple extract: pure, natural, imitation, and artificial. Artificial and imitation extracts may not have any maple product in them at all. Like other liquid extracts, the maple flavor does usually have an alcohol base.

Maple extract, as with all extracts and essences, is used to add flavor without adding significant volume or altering the consistency. It can provide maple flavor as a substitute for adding a larger amount of maple syrup, maple sugar, maple honey, maple cream, or maple butter, or maple-flavored syrup, a substitute usually made primarily of corn syrup.

Recipes for certain glazes, frostings, and icings may call for this extract, as can maple ice cream. In all cases, the significantly greater amounts of other maple products that would be required would affect the texture and consistency of the product. Maple extract can also be substituted for vanilla extract in recipes such as cookie doughs and fillings.

Outside the kitchen, maple extract may be used as fragrance component in beauty products, often combined with almond. It appears, for example, in some versions of exfoliating body polish, lip plumping products, and micro-mini peel systems, as well as hair conditioners. Complexion masks, facial astringent, face and body cleanser, and toner may also include it. Shoppers can look for the words “Acer Saccharinum (Sugar Maple) Extract” in the list of ingredients.

A 2002 study found that Acer Saccharinum extracts are potentially dangerous to horses, but they have access to it most usually from eating maple leaves. No other toxicity studies are available.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for DelightedCooking, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.
Discussion Comments
By anon968474 — On Sep 03, 2014

@ Closerfan, Yes, I did find some places that sell maple extract online - the pure stuff. It took me a little while to research this, so I'm happy to share it with you! Wisegeek doesn't allow web links, but you can do a quick google search for these:

Olive Nation makes pure maple extract, and you can buy directly from them for $7.95 for 4 ounces. I'd guess that it's a good product, because I also found it for sale at the very reputable igourmet website (it's more expensive at igourmet).

I also found a company called Cook's Vanilla that makes pure maple extract, and you can buy it for $6 for 2 ounces.

If you don't care if it's natural, Spices Etc. is a good company that makes a Maple Flavoring. It's $6.25 for 2 oz. I think that their company is quite reputable, because their Coconut Flavoring one first place in a taste test by Cook's Illustrated. I've ordered from them before and everything was good.

All three of these products come in a variety of larger sizes, too, which would be economical if you need a larger amount. Though extracts are always best (flavor-wise) used within a year, for the very best flavor, certainly you can keep them for 20 years like my mom does, too.

Hope that helps!

By EarlyForest — On Dec 08, 2010

As far as I'm concerned, you really have to go natural with maple (or any other) extract. There really is a huge taste difference, and the type of base that the extract is made out of makes a huge difference too.

Even disregarding the taste, you really get a big difference when you're baking, since the different consistency of the bases (alcohol, corn syrup, etc.) can make a huge difference in terms of the feel of your cake. For instance, those cakes or pastries made with alcohol-based extracts as opposed to corn-syrup based tend to be slightly more moist, while those made with corn syrup are a little chewier.

It's usually not a huge difference, but you can definitely taste it if you know what you're looking for. So just remember that with whatever herbal or spice extract you use, the base matters too!

By CopperPipe — On Dec 07, 2010

So is there really that much of a difference between the different kinds of maple extract? I mean, I know that they are different in terms of ingredients, but how about in terms of taste?

I've heard some people swear by certain brands or tastes, but if if's all supposed to be maple flavored, then can they really be that different?

Frankly, all the natural maple extract or organic maple extract stuff seems kind of gimmicky to me. It's just supposed to be maple, and maple is maple is maple, right?

By closerfan12 — On Dec 02, 2010

Can anybody tell e where to buy natural maple extract in South Florida? I am starting to really get into baking, but I can't find many extracts around here that aren't tropical or citrus in nature.

Is there a reputable site that sells maple extract online, or do I just need to make a trip up north to get some? I'd appreciate any input, I need maple extract for a new recipe I'm trying, but I just can't find any!

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
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