Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Slower than maple syrup

Maple syrup is made from the sap of sugar maple, red maple or black maple trees. In cold climate areas, these trees store starch in their stems and roots before the winter; the starch is then converted to sugar and rises in the sap in the spring.  Maple season is relatively short - usually late February to early April. Maple trees can be tapped and the exuded sap collected and concentrated by heating to evaporate the water.

It takes a lot of maple sap to make syrup . . . forty gallons boil down to around 1 gallon of syrup.

Maple syrup is graded based on its density and translucency. The United States grades maple syrup into two classes: Grade A and Grade B. Grade A is further broken down into three sub-grades: Light Amber (sometimes known as Fancy), Medium Amber, and Dark Amber. Grade B is darker than Grade A Dark Amber.

The lightest-colored, most delicate-flavored syrup, tapped at the beginning of the season when the sap first begins flowing, is usually the most expensive—more than $1 per ounce. As the season progresses and the weather warms, the syrup becomes darker and more intensely flavored.

In the US, any syrup not made almost entirely from maple sap cannot be labeled as "maple”.  This is why you see cheaper imitation syrup products in the grocery store. "Pancake syrup", "waffle syrup", "table syrup", and similarly named syrups are inferior, chemically produced substitutes.  They are less expensive than maple syrup. The primary ingredient is most often high fructose corn syrup flavored with sotolon(1) and have no true maple content.  They are also usually much thicker than genuine maple syrup.

Scientists have identified nearly 300 flavor compounds in maple syrup.

Because tapping the trees is basically stealing food from the trees they are damaged; however if done properly and conscientiously, tapping can occur for over fifty years without killing a tree.  Also, each tap hole is a wound that the tree must heal. Unlike ourselves trees heal their wounds by sealing off instead of repairing the damaged tissue. So, until the wound is healed it serves as an access route for diseases and boring insects.


Every summer my husband and I take a trip to New Hampshire for 10 days. We spend our time riding motorcycles, kayaking, enjoying the amazing scenery and drinking beer at our favorite brew pubs.  

One must do ride is the trip from North Conway, where we always stay at the White Trellis Motel, to Christie's Maple Farm in  Lancaster.  It's a 100+ mile round trip for maple syrup but it's an awesome ride with the majestic Presidential Range in view the whole time.  We get our year supply of maple syrup . . . Grade A Amber . . . enjoy a local soda pop and maple fudge.  

Good times!


A similar variety of this cookie was introduced to me by a dear friend.  They are delicate and wafer thin with the rich flavors of maple and butter.   These are a fairly expensive cookie to make  . . . using real maple syrup and sweet cream butter . . . so make them only for your nearest and dearest.

New England Maple Lace Cookies

1/2 Cup Maple Syrup
1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter (1 Stick), Melted
1/2 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup Oatmeal

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Stir maple syrup and butter together.  Add add flour and oats, mixing well.
Drop by 2 teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet (they will spread).
Bake 7-8 minutes.  Make sure you keep an eye on them because they will burn fast. 

Remove from the oven and let cool 1 minute, then scrape up with spatula. If the cookies have hardened too much to remove easily from baking sheet, return to warm oven for about 30 seconds.

Simple and Decadent!

(1) Sotolon (also known as sotolone) is an extremely powerful aroma compound, which smells / tastes like maple syrup, caramel, or burnt sugar at lower concentrations.  (i.e. fake maple syrup smell and taste)

1 comment:

  1. I love real maple syrup! Will have to try those cookies too. Thanks for the great info! Happy New Year to you - see ya! Maria