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Maple syrup season on the way

maple syrupBy Kim Cooper

This has not only been a tough winter for all of us, but it has been the same for our maple syrup producers. The maple syrup season is about 2 to 3 weeks behind normal and the maple trees are frozen to the core and need time to thaw out. Besides that, heavy snowfall is causing issues for the producers to get to the bushes. But the maple syrup season will come.

Maple syrup is truly a Canadian product, as we produce 70% of the total world’s supply. Quebec produces nearly 90% of this, Ontario about 10%, while Nova Scotia and New Brunswick produce the remainder.

It takes 30 to 50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup.

Maple syrup is boiled even further to produce maple cream, maple sugar, and maple candy.

It takes one gallon of maple syrup to produce eight pounds of maple candy or sugar.

A gallon of maple syrup weighs 11 pounds.

The sugar content of sap averages 2.5%, while the sugar content of maple syrup is at least 66% or more.

Usually a maple tree is at least 30 years old and 12 inches in diameter before it is tapped.

As the tree increases in diameter, more taps can be added, up to a maximum of four taps.

Tapping does no permanent damage to the trees, and only about 10 percent of the sap is collected each year. Many maple trees have been tapped for 150 years or more.

Each tap will yield an average of 10 gallons of sap per season, producing about one quart of syrup.

The maple season may last eight to 10 weeks, but sap flow is heaviest for about 10-20 days in the early spring.  In fact, warm sunny days (above 4º C) and frosty nights are ideal for sap flow. The harvest season ends with the arrival of warm spring nights and early bud development in the trees.

Maple syrup is just not about sugar even though it has about the same number of calories (50) per tablespoon as white sugar. However, the big plus with maple syrup is that it also contains significant amounts of potassium (35 mg/tbsp), calcium (21 mg/tbsp), small amounts of iron and phosphorus, and trace amounts of B-vitamins. Maple syrup is also low in sodium.

So, when it does become available, why not buy some Canadian maple syrup to use on your pancakes, milkshakes, tea, coffee, and on fresh fruit.  Maple syrup can add flavour to baked beans or apple sauce, or can be mixed with butter and poured over squash, sweet potatoes, or carrots, on baking powder biscuits, fresh donuts, over ice cream, hot cereal, baked apples, and whatever else you want.

If you are looking for maple syrup and maple products,  head out to Giffin’s Maple Syrup Products (519-676-3448) near Blenheim; Earl and Bill Elgie (519-683-4659) near Dresden; or Stan and Clara Wortner (519-695-3619) near Bothwell.  You can buy maple syrup and maple products that they make right there. It will be worth the drive.

Remember that here in Chatham-Kent ‘We Grow for the World’. Check out our website.

Kim Cooper has been involved in the agribusiness sector for over 35 years.

You can also follow him on Twitter at theAGguy.