What do Frogs and Maple Syrup have in common?

Most of us can hardly wait for winter to end and the warm summer weather to begin. I am a little strange in that I like the slow transition of winter to spring and spring to summer.

Spring-time means maple syrup time in our neck of the woods and if the conditions are right, it means light and extra light maple syrup to those of us who love the sweet sap that pours through the veins of the maple trees that surround our province. Below is a picture of a maple tree over 200 years old.maple tree

Those of you who are not from maple syrup country may not have had the opportunity to taste the difference between syrups.  Earlier in the season when it’s colder, lighter syrup is produced. The sugar content is the same, but the taste varies. As the season progresses and it gets warmer the sap becomes darker in colour. The syrup that gets shipped all over the country is usually the dark or amber maple syrup, which don’t get me wrong, is delicious, but there is just something about tasting the extra light syrup right from the big boiling vat that just says home!maple bucket.

Each spring my father would take me to the sugar shack when I was young. I looked forward to seeing the sap running from the maple trees into the steel buckets that were attached to their trunks. I would watch the horse drawn carriage go around emptying all the sap into one large container which then would be poured into a huge vat where it would be boiled to 219 degrees F to make the delicious maple syrup. These days they use plastic tubing that is piped through the forest from tree to tree back to the shack where it is boiled so it is a much more stream lined process now.  I am sure this makes the process much easier, but I miss the old fashioned steel buckets with the steel taps knocked into the trunk where you could dip your finger into the maple water and taste the hint of syrup it would soon become after it had been boiled.maple tree tubing

A few maple syrup facts:

Larger maple trees can take up to 3 taps per trunk

Tapping does not hurt the tree if the tree is over 40 years old, is over 15 inches in diameter and a new hole needs to be drilled each year

Sap is approximately 97 percent water and three percent sugar

Maple syrup is 66 percent sugar and 34 percent water

In good years producers hope to yield 1 litre of syrup per tap

If the snow is still touching the base of the maple tree the sap isn’t yet ready to run

For good syrup making the temperature must drop below freezing at night (between -2 to -8 C) and above freezing during the day (between 2 to 8 C)

When the frogs start to sing in the spring the season is over and the trees stop producing sap

To make syrup the temperature must reach 219F

To make taffy the temperature must reach 250F

Keep opened syrup in the fridge and unopened in a dark cool place or in the freezer to retain its freshness and flavour

Maple syrup is the better sweetener of choice– Researchers have found 54 new compounds in maple syrup from Canada, double the amount previously reported. These compounds many of them being antioxidants act as anti- cancer and anti inflammatory agents. According to the researchers Canadian maple syrup contains a cocktail of polyphenol compounds similar to those found in red wine, tea, berries and flaxseed. So when choosing a sweetener, pure Canadian maple syrup might just be the better choice due to its range of antioxidant compounds not found in other sweeteners.

Whether you slather maple syrup on pancakes or waffles, or simple use it to bake with, there is nothing like the taste of local maple syrup in the spring — so enjoy it.

If you get the chance to visit Canada’s capital in spring time, take the time to drive into the country and visit one of the many sugar shacks we are blessed to have in our area, and thank the men and women who work tirelessly for 2 – 3 straight weeks, perfecting this liquid gold we call maple syrup.

Leave me a comment below and tell me what your favourite dish is using maple syrup.

Here are a few of my favourite pancake recipes for you to try- enjoy

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbsp safflower or melted coconut oil
  • 1 egg or 1 tbsp ground flaxseed whisked in 3 tbsp water
  • 1 3/4 cup apple juice or water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup blueberries

Directions

  1. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Add in wet and mix well. Batter should run but not be runny
  2. Pour out batter onto a hot, oiled skillet and cook on medium heat until bubbles appear
  3. Flip and cook until golden
  4. Top with fresh maple syrup

Almond Banana Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 of a ripe banana
  • 1/3- 1/2 cup Blue Diamond or Silk unsweetened almond milk or So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk

Directions

  1. In a food processor whip milk and banana together- this will add air into the pancakes
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix well
  3. Pour batter into an oiled skillet and cook on medium until bubbles appear, flip and cook until golden
  4. Top with fresh maple syrup

Original Recipes by Shirley PlantDCF 1.0

 

 

About the Author

Written by: Shirley Plant
Shirley Plant is a nutritionist and the author of Finally… Food I Can Eat, a dietary guide and cookbook for people with food allergies, and those looking for healthy, tasty recipes. Shirley offers dietary counselling and menu planning through Delicious Alternatives.

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4 Comments

  1. Wow I hope to visit that part of the world someday! I love maple syrup and I learned something new about it too! The recipes look great, can’t wait to try them!

  2. Cool tips about syrup! I had no idea about the color changes. Interesting!

  3. I’ve been wanting to come out east to learn more about maple syrup. Thank you for letting me know that the harvest happens in the spring, I had no idea. I’ve also been hearing about the new antioxidant research on maple syrup and find it amazing. I love maple syrup and only wish the good stuff was a little cheaper.

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