Maple Syrup is as spring as winter is cold. The liquid sugar flows from the tree as vaguely sweet water from still bare the Maple trees. The best time to harvest the Maple sap is spring
In Quebec in 2006, the harvest was 27.7 million litres of Maple Syrup. In Quebec the season is mid-March to mid-April. The sap runs well when it’s cold at night and warm during the day. 2007 may turn out to be another great sap year.
The sap that flows out of the tree is 97.5 water and the rest various forms of sugar.
The Maple tree produces starch in the fall as it begins to go into dormant mode. The starch protects the roots from the winter cold. When the ground begins to thaw, the roots begin to absorb water. Enzymes in the tree convert the starch into sugar, which washes away in the sap. Winter snow becomes Maple Syrup by the process of this amazing tree.
The Maple tree trunk has to be over 20 centimetres (8 inches) or more before it is tapped. By the time it has reached that girth, the tree is about 45 years old. It will however live to be about 200 years old. It will produce about 45 litres of sap, which will be boiled down to one litre of syrup a year. When the tree buds, the sap stops flowing. Two types of maple trees, the Sugar and the Gray are tapped for sap.
Organic vs. Pure
Maple syrup comes in regular commercial or with organic certification. Organic means no pesticides are used in the farm. Both the farm and the bottling plant have to meet the required standards to be certified organic by the Quality Assurance International (QAI). Organic farming practices are prescribed by QAI and the labeling provided.
Grade A, etc
Commercially sold Maple syrup must be graded. In Ontario the maple product must be marked with the following; name of the maple product, amount of maple product in the container, grade and color of the syrup, and name and address of the producer. Pure maple syrup is addictive and preservative free.
Canada has two grades Canada #1 and Canada #2. Canada #1 comes in extra light, light, or medium. Canada #2 comes in amber or Ontario amber. Vermont has Vermont Fancy, Grade A Medium Amber, Grade A Dark Amber, and Grade B.
Soft Maple sugar is pour into a mold and where it crystallizes. It can be easily cut with a knife. Hard maple sugar is hard block of sugar. Maple butter is creaming buttery maple sugar. Maple taffy on snow is poured on snow before your eyes. You pick it up with a wooden tongue stick and enjoy.
Formaldehyde tablets were used to keep the tap hole open. They are now illegal in Quebec. Government inspectors check for various infractions and arrive without notice in Quebec. Formaldehyde tablets are bygones in Ontario and Vermont also.
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