Maple syrup is one of the first signs of spring. Warm, sunny days (about 5 C) and frosty nights (-5 C) are ideal for sap flow. The season usually lasts four to six weeks, but sap flow is heaviest for 10 to 20 days. The harvest season ends with the arrival of warm spring nights and bud development in the trees.
Ontario is the fourth largest maple syrup producer in the world after Quebec, Vermont, and New York State. Sugar maple and black maple are used in syrup production in this province.
In Northern Ontario, there are many places to enjoy traditions associated with this most Canadian of food products. A trip to the cabane à sucre celebrates French-Canadian culture and cuisine.
Aboriginals were the first to discover “sinzibuckwud,” the Algonquin word for maple syrup, which means literally “drawn from wood.” They quickly recognized the sap as a source of energy and nutrition and made it into a crude type of sugar. It was drunk as a sweet drink or used in cooking.
The natives showed French settlers how to tap the trunk of a tree at the outset of spring, harvest the sap and boil it to evaporate some of the water. Settlers and fur traders introduced wooden buckets to the process, as well as iron and copper kettles. Later they learned to bore holes in the trees and hang their buckets on homemade spouts.
Even if production methods have been streamlined and modernized, they remain basically the same. The sap must be collected and distilled carefully to produce a natural, totally pure syrup without any chemical agents or preservatives. The sugar content of sap averages 2.5 percent while the sugar content of syrup averages 66.5 percent.
Maple syrup is an excellent source of manganese and a good source of zinc. It has fewer calories and has a higher concentration of minerals than honey.
MORE ON MAPLE GOLD
(NC) Canada produces 85 percent of the world’s annual supply of pure maple syrup –not surprising considering the maple leaf’s iconic status in our national identity. But just how much do you know about our famous sticky treat? Read on for more facts about Canada’s liquid gold.
• 91 percent of Canada’s maple syrup is produced in the province of Quebec.
• The top importer of pure Canadian maple syrup is the United States, followed by Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, and France.
• Pure maple syrup is 100 percent natural with just one ingredient – maple tree sap.
• Maple sap is mostly water (97 percent) plus natural sugars, some vitamins, minerals, amino acids and proteins. It takes about 40 litres of sap to produce one litre of syrup.
• During the annual “sugaring off” season, tree sap changes – producing the different grades, colours, and flavours of the resulting maple syrup. Early in the season, it is light in colour and slightly sweet. As the weeks go by, it becomes darker, richer and caramelized.
• Amber varieties of maple syrup have bold caramel-maple flavour, while very strong-tasting dark versions are primarily used in commercial food production. Medium varieties such as the PC 100% Pure Maple Syrup is the number one choice among Canadians.
• “While maple syrup is high in natural sugars and thus should be consumed in moderation, it delivers 100% of your daily value (DV) of magnesium,” says Samara Foisy, a registered dietitian for Loblaw Companies Limited. “Each 60 millilitre serving is also an excellent source of vitamin B2 and a good source of zinc..”
• To be designated pure maple syrup by law in Canada, it must originate from maple sap and be free of any additives, maple substitutes or flavoured products.