Maple Syrup production is a longstanding tradition in Ontario, Quebec, and several northeastern States. For Canadians who grew up with maple syrup, there’s nothing like it on a stack of pancakes! I also enjoy it in my coffee and baking.
Earlier this week, I had the privilege of touring the maple syrup trail at Blyth Creek Maple Farm. It was a cool, very foggy day. Fortunately the rain held off, and thanks to warm clothing, we kept comfortable and had a good time.
Blyth Creek Maple Farm
Blyth Creek Maple Farm offers guided tours to teach about maple syrup production from it’s discovery by the First Nations people, through pioneer settler processing methods, to modern day collection and evaporation.
We rode a wagon back to the sugar bush. The first exhibit showed how sap would have been collected in birch bark bowls, carefully boiled down, and made into sugar.
European settlers would have boiled the sap in large pots over open fires.
Sap used to be collected in individual buckets, gathered, and poured into a big container to be boiled.
These days, vacuum lines are attached to the trees, and the sap is moved along by suction.
Sugar Maple Trees
Not all maple trees make good syrup. The sugar maple, which grows straight and tall with a light grey fleck in the bark, has not yet budded for the season. Soft maple trees have already begun to bud. Once the buds start to appear on the sugar maple trees, the maple syrup season is over.
Maple Syrup Production
Maple syrup season is short – usually about 6 weeks in early spring. At Blyth Creek Maple Farm, it starts about the first week of March. Cold nights and warmer days are required to get the sap running. As the ground thaws, minerals are released into the sap, so the syrup becomes darker.
It takes about 40 litres of sap to boil down to make 1 litre of maple syrup. For sugar or candy, it’s boiled further. On the previous Friday before our Monday visit, Blyth Creek Maple Farm had collected about 5,000 litres from their 30-acre wood lot. That’s about 1 gallon (a little under 4 litres) per tap.
Maple syrup production is an exact science. Water boils at a slightly different temperature each day depending on the air pressure, so this is taken into account when condensing the sap.
A hydrometer is used to measure density as the sap turns into maple syrup. It must have a sugar content of 66.7% to be sold as maple syrup.
At the end of the tour, we enjoyed a lunch of pancakes and sausage with maple syrup in the cafe at Blyth Creek Maple Farm. They were even kind enough to provide gluten-free pancakes for those of us who needed them! I would recommend calling ahead if you would like gluten-free pancakes, too.
I hope that you’ll find some local maple syrup of your own to enjoy this season. When you do, you’ll probably be faced with a colour choice.
- Light syrup is produced early in the season and is ideal for further processing
- Medium syrup is good for pancakes
- Dark syrup, produced later in the season, is great for dishes like beans
When you get your maple syrup, you can make
What is your favourite use for maple syrup?
Good news! Maple syrup is allowed on the Elimination Diet Meal Plan!
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