Monday, 5 May 2014

Sugar From Trees

"Now that print is dead, maple syrup is officially the greatest thing made by trees."

                                             Rachel Sanders, BuzzFeed Food

I was just reading that though the maple syrup production this season was delayed by several weeks due to the weather, it was still a good maple syrup year in the end. When I think about maple syrup, I think of sponge toffee and pancakes, such happy thoughts.  Here in eastern Ontario, maple syrup is a big enterprise involving the tapping of thousands of trees for some family businesses.  There are also a lot of people who tap a few trees in their backyard and try to get a liter of syrup just for the fun of it.
 Last year we went for lunch at a sugar bush restaurant at the height of the maple syrup season.  Where we were seated by a large window, we had an excellent view of the syrup lines from the trees.  The clear plastic of the tubes enabled us to watch how the sap was running through the lines.  I was surprised by how fast it was flowing, sometimes in a rush like a river.  Amazing.
Did you know it was probably a squirrel that helped people discover maple syrup?  Legends vary among indigenous people about how it was discovered and some of their stories involve a squirrel.  Scientists have observed squirrels biting bark till the sap runs, waiting for it to coagulate, then returning to the site to lick the syrup.  They chose only sugar maples and did this particular behaviour only at the time of year when the sap is running. In this way they were able to validate the often told legend about the little boy watching a squirrel biting a tree till the sap ran and him tasting the sap and finding it delicious.
I consider maple syrup one of the rare very special flavours in the world.  I prefer the lighter versions, a little less sweet but still that undeniably unique flavour.  Nowadays, you can find maple syrup flavouring in so many items...bacon, sausages, cakes, candies and cookies.  If you want to learn some more interesting uses of maple syrup, Rachel Sanders has a great online entry at BuzzFeedFood called 57 Magical Ways to Use Maple Syrup.

And here is my Block O...