10 Fun Facts about Maple Syrup 🍁
1. Getting the sap that makes maple syrup running involves the right mix of warm and cool temperatures. In the spring, the sap wood layer of the sugar maple – located just underneath the bark of the tree – acts as a super highway bringing necessary sugars up from the roots to feed new growth. When night-time temperatures dip below freezing, the sap wood contracts, creating negative pressure that draws the sap up. Warm daytime temperatures help the sap wood expand, creating positive pressure that causes the sap to flow. That yo-yoing of temperatures is necessary to keep the sap pumping.
3. It takes 40 gallons of syrup to make one gallon of syrup. To put that in perspective, that’s as much liquid as fills an average bathtub, boiled down to the equivalent of a carton of milk.
4. The average sugar maple tree produces anywhere from 5 to 15 gallons of sap, which means the sap from 2.5 trees needs to be combined to make a single gallon of syrup.
5. Syrup’s flavour depends on when the sap runs. Early season sap tends to be lighter in colour and flavour. Later in the season, when temperatures are warmer, the sap darkens. The darker the colour, the stronger the maple flavour. This year North America is switching to a new grading system for syrup!
6. Sap straight from the tree is mostly water – only 2% sugar. That’s why maple producers boil it down, aiming for a minimum of 66% sugar in their syrup.
7. Maple syrup can be a one-to-one substitution for liquid sweeteners such as honey, molasses and corn syrup. To swap out granulated sweeteners like sugar, use 2/3 cup of maple syrup for every 1 cup of granulated sugar, reduce the quantity of liquid ingredients in the recipe and lower the baking temperature.
8. Pure maple syrup has the same beneficial classes of antioxidant compounds found in berries, tomatoes, tea, red wine, whole wheat and flax seed.
9. Tapping a tree leaves a scar. When the sap runs out, the tree naturally closes over the wound. But tapping needs to be done carefully and correctly, as it can expose the tree to microorganisms that can kill the tree.
10. Unopened maple syrup can be stored at room temperature, but once opened, it should be stored in the refrigerator. Syrup can last a long time, but it can also crystallize or mould. Crystallization is a reflection of a syrup’s sugar content and isn’t harmful. Mould too can be removed using a clean Q-tip. But maple producers would encourage you to just buy a new bottle!