Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

Search This Blog

Friday, January 18, 2013

Trader Joe's Organic Grade B Maple Syrup

Interesting info-burst: Did you know it takes approximately 43 gallons of maple sap to produce one gallon of maple syrup? That's amazing to me. According to this website from the University of Vermont, a single tree produces about 10 to 20 gallons of sap per season, depending on all sorts of factors, and, well, if you're all that interested and want to learn all about, click the link and knock yourself out. We'll be here when you're done. Anyways, using very rough math, this 12 oz bottle of Trader Joe's Organic Grade B Maple Syrup is the byproduct of about 4 gallons of maple sap evaporated/boiled/steamed (everywhere I look uses different terminology), which is a sizable proportion of a tree's given annual yield, no matter how you cut it. There's two thoughts that come to mind: 1) Whoever came up with the process that makes maple syrup is an absolute genius and 2) the $7.99 price point for this bottle is put into a little better perspective.

And then there's all this info out there about maple syrup grades. A lot of it I saw refers to Grade B syrup, like this bottle, as best for baking, and Grade A best for your pancakes and waffles. Despite the allusions to your report card, A vs. B isn't really meant as a judgement on quality but rather on the color and sweetness. Grade B, harvested later in the season, is darker and less sweet but more maple-y than Grade A. To make a rough analogy, think of Grade B as dark chocolate and Grade A as milk chocolate - both are great, and whichever one you like better, go for it.

Okay, that's enough of that. How does it taste? Deeeeeeee-lish. I cannot tolerate any of the crap like Aunt Jemima masquerading as maple syrup, but man, the real stuff? Love it. This particular TJ's find is thick and rich and uber-maple-y. Sandy cooked up some homemade blueberry almond wheat pancakes last night while I made us some sausage patties from a pretty decent local farm. The syrup was amazing on both of them. It was so good, in fact, I had to refrain from channeling my inner Super Trooper, but I couldn't resist pouring out just a little into a shot glass and sipping it down, just for a little unadulterated taste. This is the strongest maple-tasting maple syrup I've had yet, and I love it. For the money (there's a Grade A that Trader Joe's carries, but for $9 more a bottle), it's tough to beat, at least on the local grocery shelves around Pittsburgh. It's certainly better than that weird MexiCanuck concoction TJ's had a while back. Much better.

Sandy's a fan too. "Better than Aunt Jemima, and Log Cabin, too," she said, as if it were a bold statement. Well, yes, love, this is the actual real stuff, not the high fructose corn junk that actually cannot legally be labelled as "maple" syrup. We're planning a Vermont vacation this year (I've been there a few times, she's never been) so hopefully she'll broaden her maple syrup palate soon. This is far from a bad start, though, for sure. She gives it a four. I'll up that by half a spoon.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Organic Grade B Maple Syrup: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons



15 comments:

  1. I've used this syrup for YEARS! Yummers for sure!.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No doubt KBF! And again with the first comment...tell us, loyal fan, what should we review next? :)

      Delete
    2. how about the salads? the kale-cranberry-almond salad is good.. also the pasta-grilled chicken-mango w/mango vinigrette. Flash frozen Blacksable fish is good, mainly because the suggested way of cooking is fast!.

      Delete
  2. Some review suggestions: The spicy Korean seaweed salad (in the foil pouch); TJ's instant coffee packets (yes, I like good fresh-ground coffee but this stuff is a guilty pleasure and convenient as hell; use 2 in a regular-sized mug!); pre-cooked rack of ribs (refrigerated); lemon-pepper grinder (maybe with a fish review?) and African smoke seasoning grinder; Unexpected Cheddar and English Coastal Cheddar (yum and yum!); fresh mozzarella string cheese; Pub Cheese (regular and jalapeno better than horseradish imo); frozen tiramisu (light and fluffy and yummy!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hate to burst your bubble, but the Korean foods TJ has is not the true Korean...but that's just my taste- and this is coming from a Korean... I hope u know that the Chinese food served here in the U.S. is American-Chinese...just sayin'....

      Delete
    2. Didn't expect to find a food snob here, but I enjoy the Korean seaweed salad very much, thank you. And it's far better than most common seaweed salads, with 7-8 different types of plain seaweed. It might be a bit "fishy" tasting for some, tho. And I often eat at restaurants serving authentic Szechuan and other Chinese cuisines here (there are tons of them, and some don't even have English on the menus). So yeah, thanks for telling me something I have no interest or need in knowing. And I also eat at authentic Korean restaurants too, many of which might even meet your discerning criteria. They are patronized mostly by Korean people....

      Delete
  3. I have used the TJ's B for a few years and you just can't beat it for taste, I prefer the grade B over A everytime!!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. love this ...I love maple syrup and TJ's is great for the price.....more important it is natural and does not have fruitose corn syrup.....

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wish we had a TJ close by. I always stock up on red curry sauce and other condiments when we visit our kids. Next time I will get the maple syrup too. Vermont is lovely by the way. Loved visiting there last Fall.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Trader Joe's come to Africa (South) pleeeeeeez! We won't moan and groan, too busy munching:)

    ReplyDelete
  7. That syrup is possibly the best thing I've ever had from Trader Joe's!

    Who knew a lower grade was the tastier?

    ReplyDelete
  8. Interesting info-burst: Did you know it takes approximately 43 gallons of maple syrup to produce one gallon of maple syrup?

    This I did not know. It's a wonder it all doesn't just vanish from the face of the Earth before it ever gets to the stores!

    ;)

    Probably you meant 43 gallons of maple sap.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Some years ago, I heard on "Splendid Table" (APR show) about Grade B having a more robust flavor. And one time when I was buying it at my local farmer's market, the vendor said that Martha Stewart had been promoting it this way. I don't know if both Lynne and Martha were doing this, or if he was confused about the source.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sorry...I have to write this...don't you mean that it takes 43 gallons of 'sap' to make one gallon of syrup (not 43 gallons of syrup to make one gallon of syrup)? I know if may be a little 'English snobby' but it is being published by a company as factual, so...well...I hope you don't mind...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! Never noticed that. You're good....too good...

      Delete