Maple syrup was first collected and used by the native Americans and the practice was adopted by European settlers.
Several studies have found that maple syrup is a good source of antioxidants. Studies found 24 different antioxidant substances in maple syrup.
Dark vs. Light Maple Syrup. What is the difference?
There is many factors that can affect the color or grade of syrup. One thing for sure it is tough to make light syrup while medium and dark seem to make up the bulk of annual syrup production. Dark does NOT mean "less refined" Factors such as length of season, sap quality and length of boiling time to name a few. We can easily change the color grade of our syrup by leaving it in the bottler for extended periods of time but for us lighter is better.
Wood Fired vs. Gas Evaporators
We have heard some say they like the smokey flavor that comes from wood fire. The heat source has nothing to do with the flavor of Maple Syrup. No smoke enters the cooking areas! As a matter of fact the constant rising steam from the boiling sap on the syrup pans would make this theory of smokey syrup highly questionable! With that being said we do use a wood fired evaporator and can attest that while a nice wood fire conjures images of a sweet treat it has nothing to do with the overall flavor.
Maple syrup is made from the xylem sap of the sugar or red maple trees. In cold climates trees store starches in their trunks and roots before the winter; the starch is then converted to sugar that rises in the sap in late winter and early spring. Maple trees are tapped by drilling holes into their trunks and collecting the exuded sap, which is processed by heating to evaporate much of the water, leaving the concentrated syrup.
FOLLOWING FACTS OBTAINED THOUGH MICHIGAN MAPLE SYRUP ASSOCIATION
- Michigan ranks 5th in maple syrup production in the United States.
- Average maple syrup production in Michigan is about 90,000 gallons per year.
- Economic contributions of the pure maple syrup industry to Michigan are nearly $2.5 million annually.
- Michigan law requires that processor of maple syrup must be licensed.
- The production of pure maple syrup is the oldest agricultural enterprise in the United States.
- Maple syrup is one of the few agricultural crops in which demand exceeds supply.
- Only about 1 percent of Michigan’s maple forest resource is used in maple syrup production.
- In an average year, each tap-hole will produce about 15 gallons of maple sap, enough for about a quart of pure Michigan maple syrup.
- Maple sap is a slightly sweet, colorless liquid.
- It takes approximately 40 gallons of maple sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup.
- A gallon of standard maple syrup weighs 11 pounds and has a sugar content of 66 percent.
- Maple syrup is the first farm crop to be harvested in Michigan each year.
- Maple syrup is not the recipient of any crop support or subsidy programs.
- A maple tree needs to be about 40 years old and have a diameter of 10 inches before tapping is recommended.
- The maple season in Michigan starts in February in the southern counties and runs well into April in the Upper Peninsula.
- Warm sunny days and freezing nights determine the length of the maple season.
- The budding of maple trees makes the maple syrup taste bitter. Thus, production ceases.
- Freezing and thawing temperatures create pressure and force the sap out of the tree.
- A very rapid rise in temperature (25 to 45 degrees) will enhance the sap flow.
- While the sugaring season may last 6 to 10 weeks, but during this period, the heavy sap may run only 10-20 days.
- Average sugar concentration of maple sap is about 1.5 percent.
- Maple sap is boiled to remove the water and concentrate the sugars in a process called evaporation.
- Tubing collection systems with vacuum can increase average sap yields approximately 50 percent.
- Maple sap becomes maple syrup when boiled to 219 degrees Fahrenheit, or 7 degrees above the boiling point of water.
- Pure Michigan maple syrup has 50 calories per tablespoon and is fat-free. It has no additives, no added coloring and no preservatives.
- Maple syrup has may minerals per tablespoon: 20 milligrams of calcium, 2 milligrams of phosphorus, 0.2 milligrams of iron, 2 milligrams of sodium, 35 milligrams of potassium.
- Maple syrup is classified as one of nature’s most healthful foods.