It’s Maple Syrup Time
There are few things more Canadian than maple syrup and the recent combination of cold nights and warm daytime temperatures are the combination needed for maple sap to flow freely through the trunks and be tapped.
Did You Know?
Canada produces more than 80% of the world’s maple syrup with the majority coming from Quebec
Algonquin Indians and other tribes were tapping maple trees for sap long before Europeans came to North America. Aboriginal peoples taught the early settlers how to harvest sap and boil it to make maple syrup.
Clear coloured sap comes out of the tree with a sugar content of approximately 2%. To make maple syrup and maple sugar, the sap is boiled until it reaches a sugar content between 66% and 67.5%.
It takes approximately 40 litres of sap to make one litre of syrup. Maple syrup producers collect only enough sap for 1 to 1.5 litres of syrup from each tree – or less than one-tenth of the tree’s sugar
Maple syrup is a completely natural product with no additives.
Buy the Real Thing!
To ensure you are buying real maple syrup and not an imitation breakfast syrup, check the label for "Maple Syrup" or "Pure Maple Syrup" and the name of an Ontario/Quebec producer or packer. Refrigerate containers of maple syrup after opening. If you see any mould appearing, discard immediately.
All grades of pure maple syrup have the same sugar content but each grade has a distinctive flavour profile:
Grade - Golden
The first syrup of the season to be tapped is the lightest in color and most delicate in flavor.
Best drizzled over pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, yogurt and ice cream.
Grade - Amber
Made mid-season, a little darker in color with a smooth, more rounded flavor.
Best for baking, glazing salmon, chicken, ham and bacon, salad dressings, and flavouring custards, puddings and flans. The most versatile Grade.
Grade – Dark
Stronger and deeper flavor, with brown sugar notes.
Best in dishes where you want a pronounced maple flavour such as BBQ sauces, marinades and glazes for meat, oven-baked vegetable dishes or baked in pastries. An unconventional pairing with cheese in place of honey.
Grade - Very Dark
Last to be tapped, almost black in colour with a bold, dominant flavour.
Best in recipes as a substitute for molasses and for making maple candy.
How to Store Maple Syrup.
Three Quick Maple Syrup Recipes
Measure 2 tablespoons/30 mL olive oil, 1 tablespoon/15 ml red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon/15 mL maple syrup, and 1 teaspoon/5 mL Dijon mustard into a 1 cup/250 mL Pyrex measure. Whisk well.
Measure 1/4 cup/50 mL maple syrup, 2 tablespoon/30 mL salt reduced soy sauce, 1 tablespoon/15 mL Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon/15 mL lemon juice and 2 teaspoons finely minced gingerroot into a small frypan. Cook, uncovered, about 5 minutes and glaze has bubbled and thickened slightly. Brush on salmon, chicken or pork then grill or oven bake.
French Toast with Maple Infused Banana Filling:
Mash 1 ripe peeled banana, with 2 teaspoons/10 mL maple syrup. Divide mixture between 2 slices of bread; top with another slice. In a shallow baking dish combine 1/2 cup/125 mL milk, 2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon/5 mL vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon/1 mL cinnamon and pinch nutmeg. Add stuffed bread and after 1 to 2 minutes, turn over and repeat with the other side. In a large non-stick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon/15 mL butter over medium-low heat. Add stuffed bread and cook over medium-low heat about 5 minutes per side and golden in colour. To serve, top with banana slices drizzled with maple syrup.