Facts about maple syrup

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 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.