Pure Canadian maple syrup’s nutritional profile is superior to other common sweeteners, such as honey, sugar, and even brown sugar.
The calories in maple syrup are lower than in corn syrup and honey, averaging about 50 calories per tablespoon. Maple syrup is an excellent source of manganese, which plays an important role in energy production and antioxidant defences, and is necessary for normal brain and nerve function.
The sweetener provides 37% of the Daily Value of riboflavin, which aids in the metabolic process. Pure maple syrup also contains 18% of the recommended Daily Value of zinc, which is essential for a healthy immune system.
Other minerals found in maple syrup are magnesium, calcium and potassium, decreasing the risk of hypertension or stroke.
Science of Syrup
It takes a lot of sap from the sugar maples to make syrup. 40 gallons of sap for every gallon of syrup to be exact! But what makes the sap start running in the first place? Why do maple trees even have sweet sap, and who discovered it?
Why are Maple trees so sweet anyways?
Although every tree has sugar in its sap, four types of maple trees produce sap with enough sugar in it to transform into syrup. The sugars in the sap are made in the leaves through the process of photosynthesis, and the amount made depends on the weather conditions of the seasons. Lots of sunshine in the summer and autumn, and a cold winter generally make for the best sugaring in the spring.
What makes the sap start moving?
Fluctuating temperatures near the end of winter and the beginning of spring cause pressure that either pushes or pulls on the sap. In the fall, the cold drives the sap down, and when it warms in the spring, it draws it up! Sap is found in the sap wood! It is the newly formed outer wood that is just under the bark and on the outside of the part of the tree called the cambium. Sapwood also is lighter in colour than the heartwood, which lies in the centre of the tree.
How far do you have to drill into the tree?
Because sap wood lies just underneath the bark of the maple tree, drilling holes that are about 5 centimetres deep is sufficient to access the sap. When the weather conditions are right, as soon as you drill into the maple tree, and place your tap and bucket, the sap will start flowing out. It can take between eight and ten hours just to fill up one standard sized sap pail!
Who discovered maple syrup?
First Nations peoples first tasted the sweet maple sap and started boiling it down. They shared their sweet secret with French settlers and colonists who then began boiling down their own batches of syrup.
Maple Syrup Grades
Pure Canadian maple syrup is categorized and graded according to color, clarity, density and strength of maple flavor. The natural sweetener offers a variety of flavor components, including; nutty, vanilla, coffee, floral and spicy flavors.
GRADE A – Golden With Delicate Taste
First syrup of the season this syrup is light flavor and texture with hints of vanilla.
GRADE A – Amber With Rich Taste
A shade darker than the Golden, this syrup is still a light syrup. It is your typical “Pancake Syrup”.
GRADE A – Dark With Robust Taste
Produced towards the end of the season when the weather warms up, this has a traditional maple flavor.
GRADE A – Very Dark With Strong Taste
Produced before the maple trees bud, this has a strong flavor and is great for baking.