Here in Canada, the springtime melting of the snow heralds in Sugaring Time. Cold nights coupled with warmer daytime temperatures set off one of the most amazing practises in the country.
First, a bit of History…
Beginning with the Indigenous people and passed down through the generations, the practice of making maple syrup remains almost unchanged.
A hole is drilled into the trunk of a sugar maple tree, and the sap that runs out is collected. This maple water is then boiled slowly over several hours to become more concentrated.
The result: wonderful maple syrup!
Over the years and around the world, our sweet little Canadian elixir became well known. The 20th century saw the commercialization of the fabrication process. In the 70’s and 80’s, industrialization techniques, such as the plastic tubular system running from tree to tree helped increase maple syrup production to make enormous quantities. Today, Canada produces over 80% of the world’s maple syrup!
Quantity and Quality
Unbelievable as it may sound, 30-45 Litres of maple water are needed to make 1Litre of maple syrup! Each tree gives approximately one litre of maple syrup during the sugaring season.
A classification system, that has been updated since the 1920’s when it was first introduced, grades the product on its colour, flavour and density.
For the exported Canada Grade A maple syrup, the colour classifications are: Golden (Delicate Taste), Amber (Rich Taste), Dark (Robust Taste), and Very Dark (Strong Taste).
Maple Syrup in the Kitchen
Gone are the days when this liquid gold was used only to top a stack of pancakes! Chefs the world over are now trying to outdo each other using maple syrup in their recipes. It can be found in sweet and savoury dishes, and in drinks, alcoholic or non.
The Golden syrup is used in recipes where its delicate flavour shines, such as in drizzled toppings or in drinks. Usually an Amber or Dark syrup is used when baking or cooking a recipe in which the flavour of a lighter syrup would be lost in the process: glazes, sauces, desserts, and savoury meat dishes.
The possibilities are endless and maple syrup can be added to just about any dish. Of course, there’s always the Canadian way: straight up, right out of the container!!
Sources: The Canadian Museum of History, Government of Canada, Aliments du Québec.