Canadian Maple Syrup
Maple trees are tapped by drilling small holes into their trunks and collecting the exuded Sap with a “tap” or “spile”, which is then processed by boiling; to evaporate most of the water, leaving the Concentrated Sweet Syrup.
So, it takes allot of hard work to Create Maple Syrup!
Maple Syrup is a flavourful syrup most often made from the xylem sap of Sugar Maple Trees (Acer Saccharum), although it can also be made from other Maple species.
Sugar Maples, however contain the highest sugar content, about 2%. In cold climates, these trees store starch in their trunks and roots before winter; the starch is then converted to a sugar that rises in the sap in late winter and early spring. The trees are tapped to collect this Sugary Water, and turn it into Sweet maple Syrup!
Cool science huh?
- It takes about 40 litres of Maple Sap to make just 1 litre of Maple Syrup.
- Most trees yield between 35 and 55 litres of sap in a single season!
- A Maple “season” is on average only 4-6 weeks…that’s not much time to get all that sweet sap for syrup.
- A tree takes about 30-40 years before it’s big enough to tap!
- A tree with a circumference of 203 cm or More, can have 2 taps! That’s 6 1/2 Feet!
- It takes around 12 – 24 hours (or more, depending on the size of the batch) to make a single batch of Maple Syrup!
- Dark Maple Syrup can only be made late in the season, and is much stronger in flavour than Amber Maple Syrup.
- A batch must always be monitored and a producer may need to stay up all night to complete “The Boil”!
The Wonders of Maple Syrup....
Scientists from the University of Rhode Island completed a study recently, and have discovered Canadian Maple Syrup may have similar health benefits of superfoods, like blueberries, goji berries, tea, red wine, pecans and flax seeds. The researchers found 54 compounds in Maple Syrup, five unique to Maple Syrup and many of these compounds have antioxidant properties, which act as anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory agents! This makes Maple Syrup an exceptionally healthy choice. With a lower glycemic Index, (55) it’s most definitely a healthier option for Diabetics, as the body can break down this sugar easier. Managing blood sugar levels is easier with this healthier, natural sugar, so diabetics can live a healthier and more fulfilling life.
Quebecol: A Polyphenol Specific Only to Maple Syrup…
Among the five new compounds, one polyphenol is of particular interest, Quebecol, in honor of the province of Quebec, Canada; this compound is created during the process of boiling down Maple Sap into Maple Syrup. We do know that the sheer quantity and variety of identified compounds with documented health benefits qualifies Maple Syrup as a “Superfood”!
A Whole Food…
Food that undergoes little to no processing provides greater health benefits. 100% pure Maple Syrup is a natural, non-refined product, which gives it an edge over other sweetening agents.
A Lower Calorie Sweetener…
Maple Syrup is considered the best sweetener compared to white sugar as it contains the least calories. Maple Syrup has 202 Calories per ¼ cup serving, where as corn syrup has 246, and white sugar 196.
Maple Syrup, compared to refined sugars, is the easiest for our metabolism to digest. The natural sugar is produced during the growing season by photosynthesis and stored as starch in the inner bark. With the spring thaw, enzymes change this starch into sugar which mixes with water absorbed through the roots, imparting a slightly sweet taste.
Rich in Minerals
Maple Syrup is rich in essential minerals: 1/4 cup Maple Syrup covers 72% of our daily needs of Manganese, an important mineral for bone formation that also acts as antioxidant. This same amount also contributes to 37% of our daily needs in Riboflavin, 18% in Zinc, 7% in Magnesium and 6% in Calcium and 4% Potassium. Interestingly, No.3 Dark, or D Grade has the highest mineral content!
A Sweet History… A Sweet History…
The very first written account of a settler discussing Maple Sugar can be found in James Smith’s 1799 “An account of the remarkable occurrences in the life and travels of Col. James Smith”. He described how the Indigenous Peoples made the Syrup, as he observed it.
The Indigenous Peoples of North America called the “Sugaring Off” period when sap was collected the “Maple Moon” or “Sugar Month.” the tradition of Sugaring Off became established in communities in the deciduous forests of North America and has survived to the present. Techniques varied, but Indigenous Peoples tapped trees by cutting v-shaped patterns into the bark or by inserting basswood or Willow tubes into the tree. Birch-bark bowls were placed beneath the tap to catch the watery sap in early spring, when sap was made into syrup using different methods. Some left the sap out in the cold and threw away the frozen water that separated from the sugary syrup. Others boiled the sap down to syrup by adding hot rocks to birch-bark pots or boiled the sap in clay or metal kettles over a fire. Over time, innovations in evaporation methods decreased the amount of time it took to boil down the sap. Improvements were also made in the way sap was tapped and transported from trees to the sugar shack.
Canadian Maple Syrup is graded according to the “Canadian Maple Syrup Scale” on its density and translucency.
Sucrose is the most prevalent sugar in Maple Syrup.
In Canada, Maple Syrups must be made exclusively from Maple Sap to qualify as Maple Syrup and must also be at least 66% sugar!