Maple sugar

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Maple sugar
Maple sugar cubes.jpg
Ziiga'igaans (maple sugar cubes) being made in a ziiga'iganaatig (sugar press-mould)
Type Confectionery
Place of origin Canada and the United States
Main ingredients Sap of the sugar maple tree
Cookbook: Maple sugar  Media: Maple sugar
Golden sugar maple tree

Maple sugar is a traditional sweetener in Canada, and the northeastern United States, prepared from the sap of the maple tree.


A sugar maple tree

Three species of maple trees are predominantly used to produce maple sugar: the sugar maple (Acer saccharum), the black maple (A. nigrum), and the red maple (A. rubrum),[1] because of the high sugar content (roughly two to five percent) in the sap of these species.[2] The black maple is included as a subspecies or variety in a more broadly viewed concept of A. saccharum, the sugar maple, by some botanists.[3] Of these, the red maple has a shorter season because it buds earlier than sugar and black maples, which alters the flavour of the sap.[4]

A few other (but not all) species of maple (Acer) are also sometimes used as sources of sap for producing maple sugar, including the box elder or Manitoba maple (Acer negundo),[5] the silver maple (A. saccharinum),[6] and the bigleaf maple (A. macrophyllum).[7] Similar sugars may also be produced from birch or palm trees, among other sources.[8][9]


Maple sugar is what remains after the sap of the sugar maple is boiled for longer than is needed to create maple syrup or maple taffy.[10] Once almost all the water has been boiled off, all that is left is a solid sugar.[11] By composition, this sugar is about 90% sucrose, the remainder consisting of variable amounts of glucose and fructose.[12] This is usually sold in pressed blocks or as a translucent candy.[13] It is difficult to create as the sugar easily burns and thus requires considerable skill.[14]


Maple sugar was the preferred form of maple by First Nations/Native American peoples as the sugar could easily be transported and lasted a long time. It is called ziinzibaakwad by the Anishinaabeg.[15][16] Blessing of the Bay, the second ocean-going merchant ship built in the English colonies, carried maple sugar from the Massachusetts Bay Colony to New Amsterdam as early as 1631.[17] French awareness of the process is indicated in at least one engraver's works, those of the mid-18th-century artist Jean-Francois Turpin, the engraver Bernard (including several for Diderot's 1755 Encyclopedie.) and others.[18]


It is today used to flavor some maple products and can be used as an alternative to cane sugar.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Elliot 2006, pp. 8–10.
  2. ^ Ciesla 2002, pp. 37–38.
  3. ^ "Acer saccharum subsp. nigrum". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  4. ^ Heilingmann, Randall B. "Hobby Maple Syrup Production (F-36-02)". Ohio State University. Retrieved 20 September 2010. 
  5. ^ Ehman, Amy Jo (25 April 2011). "Sask. sap too sweet to waste". The StarPhoenix. p. B1. 
  6. ^ Heiligmann, Randall B; Winch, Fred E (1996). "Chapter 3: The Maple Resource". In Koelling, Melvin R; Heiligmann, Randall B. North American Maple Syrup Producers Manual. Bulletin 856. Ohio State University. Archived from the original on 29 April 2006. Retrieved 20 September 2010. 
  7. ^ Ruth, Robert H; Underwood, J Clyde; Smith, Clark E; Yang, Hoya Y (1972). "Maple sirup production from bigleaf maple" (PDF). Pnw-181 (US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station): 12. 
  8. ^ Leung, Wency (7 June 2011). "Why settle for maple when you could have birch syrup?". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 12 December 2011. 
  9. ^ Food (1989). Utilization of tropical foods: trees : compendium on technological and nutritional aspects of processing and utilization of tropical foods, both animal and plant, for purposes of training and field reference. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. p. 5. ISBN 978-92-5-102776-9. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ Maple Sugar |
  12. ^ MMSA: Maple Facts, Figures, & References
  13. ^ - canadianmaplesyrup Resources and Information. This website is for sale!
  14. ^
  15. ^ Weshki-Ayaad, Lippert and Gambill. Ojibwe-English and English-Ojibwe online dictionary.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Clark, William Horace (1938). Ships and Sailors: The Story of Our Merchant Marine. Boston: L.C. Page & Co. pp. 15–17. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ Maple Syrup Storage, Cooking Tips, and Substitutions