Maple syrup: Difference between revisions

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Line 4: Line 4:
'''Maple syrup''' is a sweetener made from the [[Plant sap|sap]] of [[maple]] trees. In [[Canada]] and the U.S. it is most often eaten with [[pancake]]s, [[waffle]]s, [[french toast]], [[cornbread]] or [[ice cream]]. It is sometimes used as an ingredient in [[baking]], the making of [[candy]] ([[confection]]), preparing [[dessert]]s, or as a sugar source and flavoring agent in making [[beer]]. [[Sucrose]] is the most prevalent [[sugar]] in maple syrup.
'''Maple syrup''' is a sweetener made from the [[Plant sap|sap]] of [[maple]] trees. In [[Canada]] and the U.S. it is most often eaten with [[pancake]]s, [[waffle]]s, [[french toast]], [[cornbread]] or [[ice cream]]. It is sometimes used as an ingredient in [[baking]], the making of [[candy]] ([[confection]]), preparing [[dessert]]s, or as a sugar source and flavoring agent in making [[beer]]. [[Sucrose]] is the most prevalent [[sugar]] in maple syrup.
It was first collected and used by bob barker[[Native Americans]], though was later adopted by European settlers.
It was first collected and used by bob barker[[Native American]], though was later adopted by European settlers.
== Production ==
== Production ==

Revision as of 17:32, 17 March 2008

Bottled maple syrup produced in Quebec.
A sugar shack where sap is boiled down to maple syrup.

Maple syrup is a sweetener made from the sap of maple trees. In Canada and the U.S. it is most often eaten with pancakes, waffles, french toast, cornbread or ice cream. It is sometimes used as an ingredient in baking, the making of candy (confection), preparing desserts, or as a sugar source and flavoring agent in making beer. Sucrose is the most prevalent sugar in maple syrup.

It was first collected and used by bob barkerNative American, though was later adopted by European settlers.


Maple syrup originates in northeastern North America, and is commonly associated with Quebec in Canada and Vermont in the U.S. However, given the correct weather conditions, it can be made wherever maple trees grow. Usually, the maple species used are the sugar maple (Acer saccharum) and the black maple (Acer nigrum), because of a high sugar content in the sap of roughly two percent. A maple syrup production farm is called a "sugar bush" or "the sugarwoods". Sap is boiled in a "sugar house" (also known as a "sugar shack" or cabane à sucre), a building which is louvered at the top to vent the steam from the boiling sap.

Canada makes more than 80 percent of the world's maple syrup, producing about 7 million US gallons in 2005. The vast majority of this comes from Quebec: the province is by far the world's largest producer, with about 75 percent of the world production (6.515 million US gallons in 2005).[1] The provinces of Ontario, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick produce smaller amounts.

Vermont is the biggest U.S. producer, with 450,000 US gallons in 2007, followed by Maine with 225,000 US gallons and New York with 224,000 US gallons. Wisconsin, Ohio, New Hampshire, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Connecticut all produced marketable quantities of maple syrup of less than 100,000 US gallons each in 2007.[1]

Maple syrup
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 1,093 kJ (261 kcal)
67.09 g
Sugars 59.53 g
Dietary fiber 0 g
0.20 g
0 g
Thiamine (B1)
0.006 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.01 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.03 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.036 mg
Vitamin B6
0.002 mg
Folate (B9)
0 μg
Vitamin C
0 mg
67 mg
1.20 mg
14 mg
2 mg
204 mg
4.16 mg
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Traditionally, maple syrup was harvested by tapping a maple tree through the bark and into the wood phloem, then letting the sap run into a bucket, which required daily collecting; less labour-intensive methods such as the use of continuous plastic pipelines have since superseded this, in all but cottage-scale production.

Production is concentrated in February, March, and April, depending on local weather conditions. Freezing nights and warm days are needed in order to induce sap flows. The change in temperature from above to below freezing causes water uptake from the soil, and temperatures above freezing cause a stem pressure to develop, which, along with gravity, causes sap to flow out of tapholes or other wounds in the stem or branches. To collect the sap, holes are bored into the maple trees and tubes (taps, spouts, spiles) are inserted. Sap flows through the spouts into buckets or into plastic tubing. Modern use of plastic tubing with a partial vacuum has enabled increased production. A hole must be drilled in a new location each year, as the old hole will produce sap for only one season due to the natural healing process of the tree, called walling-off. Maple sap is collected from the buckets and taken to the sugar house; if plastic tubing and pipelines are used, then the pipelines are arranged so that the sap will flow by gravity into the sugar house, or if that is not possible, into holding tanks from which the sap is pumped or transported by tanker truck to the sugar house.

File:Making Maple Syrup.JPG
A small scale evaporation pan used in Ohio.

During processing, called sugaring-off, the sap is fed automatically from a storage tank through a valve into a flat pan called an evaporator where the sap boils down until so much water is lost that it forms a sweet syrup. The process is slow, because of amount of water that must be boiled off. Approximately 40 litres of sap must be boiled down to make one litre of maple syrup (i.e., 39 litres of water must be boiled off). A mature sugar maple produces about 40 liters (10 gallons) of sap during the 4-6 week sugaring season. Trees are not tapped until they have a diameter of 25 centimeters (10 inches) at chest-height and the tree is at least 40 years old. Most contemporary producers use a 5/16" or 19/64" (7.94 mm or 7.54 mm) outside diameter drill bit to drill with. A tap hole depth of 1" to 1 1/2" (25 mm to 38 mm) is a commonly recommended depth.

Starting in the 1970s, some maple syrup producers started using reverse osmosis to remove water from sap before being further boiled down to syrup. The use of reverse osmosis allows approximately 75 to 80% of the water to be removed from the sap prior to boiling, reducing energy consumption and exposure of the syrup to high temperatures. Microbial contamination and degradation of the membranes has to be monitored.

Maple syrup is sometimes boiled down further to make maple sugar, a hard candy usually sold in pressed blocks, and maple taffy. Intermediate levels of boiling can also be used to create various intermediate products, including maple cream (less hard and granular than maple sugar) and maple butter (creamy, with a consistency slightly less thick than peanut butter).

Starting in the mid 80's, northern communities in the province of Quebec began to open the "Cabane à Sucre" or Sugar Shacks to the public. These sugar shacks were generally located on large maple farms and often were built solely for tourist purposes. These sugar shacks serve maple syrup direct to the public and also are often restaurants serving maple syrup inspired meals and treats.


U.S., Vermont, and Canadian grading

U.S. Syrup grades. Left to right, Vermont Fancy, Grade A Medium Amber, Grade A Dark Amber, Grade B

Grading standards are the same for most of the United States. Maple syrup is divided into two major grades, Grade A and Grade B. Grade A is further broken down into three subgrades: Grade A Light Amber (sometimes known as "Fancy"), Grade A Medium Amber, and Grade A Dark Amber. Grade B is darker than Grade A Dark Amber. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets uses a similar grading system of color and taste. The grade "Vermont Fancy" is similar in color and taste to U.S Grade A Light (Fancy). The Vermont grading system differs from the U.S. in maintaining a slightly higher standard of product density. Vermont maple is boiled just a bit longer for a slightly thicker product. The ratio of number of gallons of sap to gallon of finished syrup is higher in Vermont. Maple syrup is sold by liquid volume, not weight, however a gallon of Vermont Grade A Medium Amber weighs slightly more than a gallon of U.S. Grade A Medium Amber. The Vermont graded product has one-half percent more solids and less water in its composition. A non-table grade of syrup called "commercial," or Grade C is also produced. This is very dark, with a very strong flavour. Commercial maple syrup is generally used as a flavouring agent in other products.

In Canada, there are three grades containing several color classes, ranging from Canada #1, including Extra Light (sometimes known as AA), Light (A), and Medium (B); through #2, Amber (C); and finally #3 Dark (D). A typical year's yield will include about 25-30% of each of the #1 colors, 10% Amber, and 2% Dark. Extra light syrups are recommended for making maple sugar candy, on pancakes and waffles; Light for French toast and cornbread, desserts and cereals; Medium for glazing, sweetening, or eating on its own. Number 2 grade syrups are intended for baking and flavouring. In addition, Canada #2 Amber may be labeled Ontario Amber for farm sales in that province only.[2] Number 3 grade syrup is heavy, and restricted for use in commercial flavourings.

The grades roughly correspond to what point in the season the syrup was made. U.S. Grade A Light Amber and Canada #1 Extra Light is early season syrup, while U.S. Grade B/Canada #2 and #3 is late season syrup. Typically Grade A (especially Grade A Light Amber) and #1 Extra Light has a milder, more delicate flavor than Grade B or #3, which is very dark with a robust flavor. The dark grades of syrup are primarily used for cooking and baking.


Sometimes off-flavours are found in maple syrup. While this is more common toward the end of the season in the production of commercial grade product, it may also be present early in the season during the production of U.S. Grade A Light or Canada #1 grade. Identification of off-flavour in table grades is cause for ceasing production and either dumping the product or reclassifying the product as commercial grade if the off-flavour is slight. Off-flavours are described as: metabolism, derived from metabolic changes in the tree as spring arrives and having either a woody, popcorn, or sometimes peanutbutter-like flavour; buddy, referring to the swelling of the new buds and its impact on the flavour and having a bitter chocolate or burnt flavour; and ferment, an off-taste caused by fermentation and having a honey or fruity flavour, often accompanied by surface foam. Additionally, if trees are stressed or fighting off disease or insects (eg. gypsy moths), they will produce a folic-like acid causing a bad taste. After an ice storm, trees may also produce the same acid.

Use in food and cultural significance

Two taps in a maple tree, using plastic tubing for sap collection.

Maple syrup and its artificial imitations are the preferred toppings for pancakes, waffles, and French toast in North America. Maple syrup can also be used for a variety of uses, including: biscuits, fresh donuts, fried dough, fritters, ice cream, hot cereal, and fresh fruit (especially grapefruit). It is also used as sweetener for applesauce, baked beans, candied sweet potatoes, winter squash, cakes, pies, breads, fudge and other candy, milkshakes, tea, coffee, and hot toddies.

Maple syrup and maple sugar were used during the American Civil War and by abolitionists in the years prior to the war because most cane sugar and molasses was produced by Southern slaves. During food rationing in World War II, people in the northeastern United States were encouraged to stretch their sugar rations by sweetening foods with maple syrup and maple sugar, and recipe books were printed to help housewives employ this alternate source.

In New England, Quebec and eastern Ontario, the process has become part of the culture. One tradition is going to sugar houses (cabanes à sucre) in early spring for meals served with maple syrup-based products, especially the dish known variously as maple taffee (in English Canada), Tire sur la neige (in Quebec), and sugar on snow (in the United States). This is thickened hot syrup poured onto fresh snow and then eaten off sticks as it quickly cools. This thick maple syrup-based candy is served with yeast-risen doughnuts, sour dill pickles, and coffee.

Owing to the sugar maple tree's predominance in southeastern Canada (where European settlement of what would become Canada began), its leaf has come to symbolize the country, and is depicted on its flag. Several U.S. states, including New York and Vermont, have the sugar maple as their state tree. A scene of sap collection is depicted on the Vermont state quarter.

Imitation maple syrup

Many "maple-flavored syrups" are imitations (table syrups), which are less expensive than real maple syrup. In these syrups the primary ingredient is most often high fructose corn syrup flavored with sotolon, with little (2-3 percent) or no real maple syrup content. They are usually thickened far beyond the viscosity of real maple syrup. Since U.S. labeling laws prohibit these products from being labelled "maple syrup," many manufacturers simply call the imitation "syrup" or "pancake syrup."
Quebecers sometimes refer to imitation maple syrup as sirop de poteau ("pole syrup"), a joke referring to the syrup as having been made by tapping telephone poles.

Crescent Foods Inc. In 1905, created the popular imitation maple flavoring called Mapleine. Bought out by McCormick spices, they still distribute "Crescent Mapleine" in limited production runs. [3]


See also

External links