Recently a friend went to work on a family Maple Syrup farm in southern Quebec, a Canadian eastern province with much history and tradition. It was interesting to learn more about where our delicious world famous Canadian Maple Syrup is grown and the traditions around the harvesting in the Springtime. Here is some information about the harvest and processing of our delicious Canadian export:
Maple Syrup Background
- When the first settlers arrived in Canada in the 1600's the Indigenous peoples of North America were already processing sap for their own use such as cooking venison
- They shared their knowledge of tree tapping with the first settlers
- The better syrup comes from the sap of the red or black maple trees
- Syrup must be 100% sap to be authentic with no added ingredients
The Maple Syrup Harvest
- All harvest is done by hand, starting with holes drilled in the maple tree trunks
- A Spout is placed in each hole
- Buckets are traditionally hung on the spouts to collect sap
- The sap is collected and placed in a large wood fired evaporator in the Sugar Shack. Traditionally the sap was collected by workers in horse drawn sleighs but today many use tractors
- The sap in the evaporator is boiled all day
- The liquid is then transferred to a smaller pot and continued to boil until the water is evaporated and the correct specific gravity is reached (tested with hydrometer)
- The syrup is then transferred, while still very hot, into jars and sealed
- Today many small family farms sell 100% pure maple syrup from a "sugar shack"
Notes about Maple Syrup
- Maple trees should be about 40 years of age before being tapped but they can live 100 to 200 years
- Mature maple tree produces 20 to 25 gallons of sap per season and 40 to 50 gallons of sap makes about 1 gallon of maple syrup
- 71% of pure syrup globally is from Canada and 91% of the syrup is from Quebec
- A red maple leaf has been the symbol on the Canada flag for 100 years
- In Quebec alone there are 13,700 family maple syrup farms. This is not including other Eastern provinces such Ontario, Novia Scotia
Some of the Health Benefits of Maple Syrup
..."Maple syrup contains many natural antioxidants. Several newly identified antioxidant compounds found in maple syrup are also reported to have anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, and anti-diabetic properties. Maple syrup also contains anti-inflammatory compounds.
~ Acadian Maple Syrup
Some of the maple syrup farms have been handed down for generations since the 1600's and many farmers today produce maple syrup using the same methods of their ancestors centuries ago. The original farmhouse where are friend stayed was built in the mid 1800's.
In closing, Maple Syrup from Quebec, La Belle Province - it's simply the best in the world! Travel Canada for your next holiday and plan a trip to Quebec and back East next Spring and enjoy harvest time. Au revoir ...
Links & References:
- The Story of Maple Syrup from Quebec
- The Maple Syrup Industry - Canadian Encyclopedia
- A Bountiful Harvest for Maple Syrup Producers (2017)
- History of the Canadian flag with red maple leaf
- The Magic of Quebec - La Belle Province - Tourist information
Photo Credit: Thanks Lee, for the story and the great photos ...