It’s Maple Syrup Season! Like all good Canadians, I pour that stuff on everything: toast, coffee, marinades, shot glasses; or just squeeze that bottle straight down the gullet. I would argue that maple syrup is Canada’s national beverage, since we provide the world with 80 percent of its global supply. (70% of the world’s maple syrup comes from Quebec.)
Like me, maple trees store starch in their trunks. That starch converts to sugar. In late winter, early spring, the sugar rises in the sap. Holes are drilled into the trees to tap the sap. You can’t tap at night, because cold temperatures inhibit the flow. Watch what the great culinary legend, my mentor, Buddy, has to say about maple syrup:
Where to Buy Pure Local Maple Syrup and Enjoy Festivals and Sugar Shacks:
- Where to Buy, Local Events, Recipes Across Ontario: ontariomaple.com/where-to-buy
- Toronto Sugar Shack, March 9/10: sugarshackto.ca
- St. Mary’s Maple Syrup Festival at McCully’s Hill Farm, Weekends in March: Learn how maple syrup is made! Take a horse drawn wagon ride through the sugar bush. Enjoy a delicious pancake breakfast. mccullys.ca/view.php?public/For_the_Kids/Maple_Syrup_Festival,_2019
- Prince Edward County, “Maple in the County”, March 30/31: Celebrate the first harvest at participating sugar bushes. Enjoy pancake breakfasts, taffy on snow, S’mores, petting zoos, BBQ sausages, lumberjack show, artisan vendors, wineries and more. mapleinthecounty.ca
- Maple Weekend, April 6/7, Local Sugar Houses: mapleweekend.ca
- Huntsville, Muskoka Maple Festival, April 27:A full day of fun and activities, vendors and displays, live music, street performers and delicious food! Local restaurants, bakeries and cafés will be serving up unique maple inspired offerings. Discover pure maple syrup, maple beer, and unique maple inspired dishes from sweet to savoury. muskokamaple.ca/maple-festival
Next time you’re making a bowl of cereal for breakfast, slowly pour in some maple syrup while bobbing your head to this song:
Five Facts About Maple Syrup:
- It takes about 40 years for a maple tree to grow big enough to tap for maple sap
- It takes 50 litres of sap to make 1 litre of syrup
- Maple Syrup contains high amounts of manganese, riboflavin, magnesium and zinc, as well as 24 different anti-oxidants
- The colour of maple syrup darkens the later it is harvested. Golden maple syrup has a delicate taste. Amber coloured has a richer taste. Dark syrup is more robust. Very dark maple syrup has the strongest taste. Which one you choose has to do with personal preference and recipe.
- Ontario Maple syrup pairs beautifully with Ontario cheddar; Ontario whisky; mixed with soy sauce in a marinade; or as a healthier substitute to refined sugar.
Only in Canada…
One of the most expensive robberies in Canadian history was the Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist that occurred over several months between 2011 and 2012 in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford, Quebec. 10,000 barrels of maple syrup, equalling nearly 3,000 tons, and valued at $18.7 million were stolen. Seventeen men were busted in connection to the crime.
Adam Waxman is an award winning travel journalist focusing on food, wine and well being. As well as an actor in film, television and formerly, the Stratford Festival, he is the Publisher of DINE and Destinations magazine.