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Listed below are various sugar syrup and honey types used in Finnish cooking and in the recipes of this site.

Read more about various sugar types here.

See also:

Dark molasses

Dark molasses Finnish dark molasses is made of various by-products of sugar refining, retaining much of the colour, flavour and minerals from sugar cane and sugar beet. It is mainly used in bread and roll doughs, gingerbread cakes, cookies, candies, homemade beers, etc.

Choose a dark brown-coloured sugar syrup with a clean sugar-cane flavour.

Jar of black treacle Important note:
very dark types of molasses, like blackstrap or dark/black treacle (in picture on right) are not suitable to replace the regular Finnish dark molasses used in the recipes presented on this site.

These type of molasses have a bitter and stuffy, almost liquorice-like flavour, which is too strong and distinctive for most Finnish dishes.

Light molasses

Light molasses Finnish light molasses is pale golden-coloured sugar syrup mixed with a small amount of glucose syrup to prevent it from crystallizing.

Light molasses can be replaced with light corn syrup or golden syrup.

Do not use maple syrup as a substitute because of its distinctively different, almost tarry flavour.

Maple syrup

Maple syrup Maple syrup is made of the sap of certain maple tree species found only in North America. The sap running from the tree is collected and boiled down until reduced into thin syrup.

There are several grades of maple syrup, defined according to the quality of the syrup. The syrups with lightest colour are deemed as finest. Preferably use Canadian maple syrups, as the best-quality brands are produced there.

In most dishes, maple syrup may be replaced with light molasses (see above) or some other type of light syrup, but only if the distinctive taste of maple syrup is not essential to the dish. Never use any of the low-quality sugar syrup products with artificial maple syrup flavouring (eg "Lyle's Golden Syrup Maple Flavour") to replace genuine maple syrup in recipes.

Spruce shoot syrup

Spruce shoot syrup An old European speciality, spruce shoot syrup is made by soaking and cooking young vitamin-rich sprucebuds in water. Sugar or molasses is added to the strained water and the mixture is cooked until syrupy.

The syrup is used to flavour drinks, parfaits, cream puddings and other desserts, sweet or savoury sauces and marinades, or to top pancakes and ice cream, much like maple syrup. The flavour of the syrup is somewhat similar to traditional North American spruce beers.

In Finland, besides flavouring beer, spruce shoots are also used in making jams, jellies, speciality lemonades and juices, as well as sparkling wine.

Picture below left: bright green shoots of spruce (Picea abies).

Picture below right: Finnish non-alcoholic sparkling wine-like beverage made with spruce shoot juice, produced by Korpihilla, a small family enterprise situated in Finnish Lapland.

Spruce shoots Finnish sparkling spruce shoot beverage


Thick honey Clear honey Comb honey
Thick honey Clear honey Comb honey

Honey is produced by honey bees from nectar they collect from various plant flowers and honeydew secreted by some insects. The colour and flavour of honey depends on the type of flower the nectar is derived from.

Honey is used to flavour many foods, desserts and drinks, or to replace sugar in some extent. In the recipes of this site, use good-quality, mild-tasting honey, either clear or thick, depending on the recipe. Suitable varieties are mild polyfloral honeys or monofloral honeys, like willowherb/fireweed, clover, raspberry, acacia, or orange blossom.

While polyfloral honey is the most commonly available and consumed domestic honey type in Finland, many local apiaries also produce regional, organic, monofloral and other small-scale speciality honeys, like wild raspberry, cloudberry, lingonberry, bilberry and fir honey. Finnish honey consists mainly of sugars, like fructose (40 %), glucose (35 %), sucrose (1,5 %) and maltose (1,5 %), water (17 %) and small amounts of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, organic acids and enzymes (5 %). Acting as preservatives, the enzymes inhibit the growth of microorganisms. Honey is a natural product and does not contain any additives.

Very thick honey may be carefully heated to make it runny. It should be noted however, that heating honey to over +37 °C destroys its natural enzymes.


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