Maple syrup

Facts about maple syrup

We found 24 facts about maple syrup

The liquid gold of the Canadians

Maple syrup is a favorite breakfast ingredient, mainly on American tables. For centuries, it has been used by North American Indians as both food and medicine. It was discovered by the Canadian Indians and became a traditional product of Canada. The maple leaf is featured on the country's flag, and the maple tree is of exceptional importance there. It is thick, fluid, and sweet, with a characteristic "burned" flavor.

Maple syrup
Maple syrup is made from the sap of maple trees.
Mainly three species of maple are used for production: sugar maple (Acer saccharum), black maple (Acer nigrum), and red maple (Acer rubrum), due to the high sugar content of the sap, ranging from 2 to 5%.
Canada is the world market leader in the production of maple syrup - in the world, it produces 71% of pure maple syrup, 91% of which is produced in the Quebec Province.
In terms of consumption, the United States is the leader.
The Indigenous peoples from the Northeast of North America were the first to obtain maple syrup.
This happened long before the arrival of Europeans, as evidenced by archaeological sources and tradition.
The Native Americans claim that this skill of obtaining maple syrup was accidentally passed on to them by the gods.
Legend has it that the Iroquois’ Chief Woksis threw his tomahawk into a maple tree on a winter day. On the next day, sun rays focused on the tomahawk, and once it was removed, sweet syrup sprung from the hole. Chief’s wife marinated meat in the sap and cooked a delicious dish. Ever since maple syrup has been a common condiment for many dishes. It was treated as the main spice, just like salt in European cuisine.
The harvesting of maple sap was accompanied by specific rituals.
The first day of the spring full moon was a harvest festival - that was when the Maple Dance was performed. Some tribes hold "maple moon" festivals to celebrate a return to old traditions.
The Algonquins of the Ottawa River in southern Quebec treated maple juice as a nutritious energy drink.
In early spring, they used stone tools to make V-shaped incisions in maple trunks. Then they placed reeds or concave pieces of bark in them. The juice flowing from the cuts was collected into vessels made of birch bark.
The collected juice was concentrated by evaporating the water using one of the two methods.
One method was to put very hot stones in the fire in a juice pot. The second one was based on the use of low temperatures. When a layer of ice appeared on the surface of the juice at night, it was removed. This was done over and over again, every morning, until the water was gone.
When the Europeans came to North America, the natives passed on their knowledge of obtaining maple sap.
The first European settlers and fur traders were already collecting maple sap. They would not cut the bark off the trees, but rather drill several holes in the bark. Then they inserted wooden gutters, through which the juice flowed to wooden buckets suspended underneath them. All the vessels were made of drilled log fragments.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, apart from maple syrup, sugar was also produced from maple juice.
In the 19th century, during the Civil War, maple sugar was replaced by cane sugar, which began to dominate the United States as a sweetener. Producers focused on making the syrup. There was also a change in the vessels for evaporating water from the juice. Instead of round pots, people began to use flat, large tin pans with a larger evaporation surface.
The first evaporator for heating and thickening maple sap was patented in 1858.
This evaporator has been repeatedly improved to speed up the evaporation process. The following years brought various technological changes. New methods of juice extraction were introduced, along with vacuum pumps, followed by heaters capturing the heat escaping during evaporation. Finally, water was extracted from the juice before heating, using the phenomenon of reverse osmosis.
The process of obtaining maple juice has also been improved.
In 2009, scientists from the University of Vermont unveiled a new type of tap that prevents sap backflow into the tree, reduces the risk of bacterial contamination, and prevents the hole from overgrowing.
The methods of making maple syrup, though improved over the centuries, have remained the same.
The sap is harvested in the same way from maple trees, then concentrated without the use of chemicals or preservatives.
To obtain 1 liter of maple syrup, the water must be evaporated from 20 to 50 liters of maple juice.
In the process of water evaporation, a syrup is obtained with a temperature higher by 4.1 degrees C than the boiling point of water. The finished syrup has a density of 66 on the Balling scale (sugar content in the solution).
A syrup of this density is filtered to remove sugar crystals and calcium malate.
The filtered syrup is placed in the target containers while hot (usually 82 degrees C or more). To sterilize the stopper, the containers are turned upside down.
Such syrup is ready to eat, but it can also be a raw material for the production of maple sugar, maple butter, and maple candy.
The farms producing maple syrup are called sugarbush. The building in which the water is evaporated during the production of the syrup is called the sugar house. It has a ventilation window on the top to discharge the steam.
In order to extract sap from a maple tree, it must be around 30 to 40 years old.
Depending on the diameter of the trunk, from one to three holes are drilled in it and taps are placed in them. The tree is used to obtain sap until it is over 100 years old.
A single tree produces a maximum of 12 liters of juice per day.
In season, it is from 35 to 50 liters. About 7% of the total amount of sap flowing through the tree is obtained in this process.
Maple juice is harvested in the spring.

Already in early spring, the sap begins to flow abundantly through the trees. Before vegetation begins, the sap flows from the roots to the crown of the tree, carrying carbohydrates stored in the roots.

The best conditions are sunny weather and the temperature oscillating around 15°C. The sap flows most abundantly around noon, on the warm side of the trunk when the temperature is the highest. The harvest time is four to eight weeks. The drop in temperature at night slows down the flow of juices.

That's why the march break was invented, so farmers could bring their kids to help with the process of extracting sap from the trees. At least that's what most of them claim :)

Maple syrup, as a completely natural product, is used as a sweetener but also provides many valuable ingredients for the human body.
It is a source of the following minerals: calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, iron; B vitamins (riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, folic acid) and antioxidants. In recent years, 54 hitherto unknown beneficial compounds have been discovered. Most of them are antioxidants with anti-cancer, anti-bacterial and anti-diabetes properties. The anti-cancer effect has been observed as the inhibition of the process of multiplication of neoplastic cells in the case of lung, prostate, breast, colon, and brain cancer.
Research by Dr. Keiko Abe of the University of Tokyo has shown that maple syrup significantly improves liver function.
It has also been shown that ABA abscisic acid contained in maple syrup stimulates the release of insulin by the pancreas and increases the sensitivity of fat cells. Scientists hope that these findings could be used to synthesize drugs based on maple syrup to help fight various diseases.
Dr. Navindra P. Seeram, an American professor who studies medicinal plants and their natural derivatives, said: “I continue to say that nature is the best chemist, and that maple syrup is becoming a champion food when it comes to the number and variety of beneficial compounds found in it.”
He added that his team's research showed the presence of numerous antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds to fight cancer, diabetes, and bacterial diseases.
100 g of maple syrup provides 260 kcal and consists of 32% water and 67% carbohydrates (90% of which are sugars).
The sugar found in maple syrup is sucrose and small amounts of glucose and fructose.
It is less caloric than white sugar or honey.
It contains small amounts of protein and fat. Since it does not contain any preservatives, it can be stored for approximately 18 months. However, it does not have an expiration day, just “best before.”
According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, maple syrup color is an important factor in its classification.

On this basis, 4 types are distinguished:

  • Golden - delicate flavor, light transmission of 75% and more;
  • Amber - rich flavor, light transmission 50% -74.9%;
  • Dark - intense flavor, light transmission 25% -49.9%;
  • Very Dark - strong flavor, light transmission> 25%.

It is also worth mentioning that the color of the syrup changes as the sugaring season progresses: Lighter syrup is usually made when the sap first begins to flow; darker syrup appears later. Darker syrup has a stronger flavor than lighter syrup, but the quality and sugar content is the same.

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