There are 128 species of Maple throughout the world. The primary Maple tree used for Maple Syrup collection is the Sugar Maple that inhabits hardwood forests of eastern Canada.
Sap - Syrup
The discovery of sugary syrup within Sugar Maple is lost to history with no written account of the exact point it might of originated. It is most likely that the tradition of drawing Maple Syrup stems from the Eastern Woodland Indians of North America.
The first European written account of Maple Syrup in North America dates to 1557 by André de Thevet, a French monk who observed Indians drawing sap from Maples. By the 1700's European settlers were fully involved in the production of and refining methods of creating a sweet thick syrup.
Maple Syrup is now a popular sweetener throughout the world with many different brands and levels of quality. Recently Canada has brought out a reviewed system of grading pure Maple Syrup to make it easier to buy syrup to ones taste. The chart goes as such:
- Grade A: Golden Colour with Delicate Taste
- Grade A: Amber Colour with Rich Taste Grade
- Grade A: Dark Colour with Robust Taste
- Grade A: Very Dark with Strong Taste
Usually the lighter the colour means that the syrup contains a higher level of water. During the winter the sap is gathered by tapping Sugar Maples to collect sap. The sap is then gathered and boiled down to remove the water content and produce syrup. The harder the boiling process, the darker the syrup. There are also Syrups on the market that have very little content of real Maple Syrup and are nearly completely made up of artificial sweeteners and other synthetic means to recreate the Maple taste.
When it comes to pure Maple Syrup vs Cane Sugar there are quite a few noticeable differences. Firstly Maple Syrup has a lower Glycemic Index and so raises blood sugar slower than cane sugar. It has also been found that the darker the Maple Syrup then the more antioxidant rich the content. Maple Syrup contains up to 24 different antioxidants that help fight free radicals, inflammation and contribute to better overall health. With the addition of high amounts Manganese and Zinc which help immunity and the control of metabolism, there's much more to enjoy with Maple Syrup than normal refined sugar. Making Maple Syrup your sweetener of choice will help in overall health but like with normal cane sugar there is certainly a limit to how much should be consumed.
Used to sweeten or add taste to desserts, baked goods, breakfasts and hot drinks.
In the production and methods of collecting the sap from Sugar Maples there is no clear source of how this tradition came into being. It's thought that maybe the boiling of the sap to produce a thick Maple Syrup was introduced by European Settlers since the Indians used different methods to refine the sap into syrup. A reference made by Col. James Smith in 1799 indicates that the Native Americans of the area where he lived would collect the sap in large shallow wooden containers and would let the top layer of the sap freeze over night. Since the dark sugary sap was heavier than water then the top layer of ice would be mostly frozen water and removed. After several nights of freezing there would be a yield of dark syrup remaining.
There are many legends regarding Maple Syrups origin to the Native Americans. Each tribe probably has a different folklore regarding how the syrup was found. In one such tale a tribal chief is in the habit of sicking his tomahawk in a tree after the end of each day. After repeatedly planting his tomahawk in the same spot an opening was made in the tree. The chiefs daughter was preparing food one evening and needed water for the meal. On her way to the creek she noticed that there was container filled with water below the tree which her father used to place his tomahawk. Instead of walking all the way to the creek she used this 'water' instead to do her cooking. Unknown to her the sap of the tree had run out of the gash that had been created and collected in a container at the base of the tree. After boiling the chief and his daughter discovered the sweet taste of the Maple Syrup and decided to investigate further. This and many stories like it are attributed to the discovery of Maple Syrup to certain Native American tribes.
xylem, sucrose, water, monosaccharides glucose, fructose, invert sugar, trace amino acids, vanillin, hydroxybutanone, propionaldehyde. The taste of Maple Syrup comes from - furanone, strawberry furanone and maltol.