Maple products are a staple food in Canada and the maple leaf is the symbol of the country, so much so that it’s represented on its flag.
The inspiration came from the lush forests of maples that cover the Canadian territory and the particular shape of the leaf. In 1834 Canadians gave life to the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society, an institution to protect the sovereignty of Quebec, and used in their banner the maple leaf as an official symbol. Since then, the Maple Leaf was used as a symbol for Canada and for the majesty of its nature.
Essential micronutrients such as manganese, zinc, calcium, iron and vitamin B make it not only a natural sweetener, but a real complete food that, added to our diet in moderate quantities, can be very healthy and nutritious. It is particularly appreciated in the Canadian diet because it’s rich in antioxidants, it has diuretic properties and a relatively low glycemic index and it’s less caloric than regular sugar so it’s also used as a sweetener for coffee, tea, yogurt, milk and cakes.
Maple syrup has long been a part of Canadian culture. The natives taught to the first European settlers how to collect the sap from the trees and how to boil it to get the syrup. Maple syrup was the first type of sweetener produced in the eastern part of North America and it was the most common sweetener until the importation of sugar cane.
A legend of the American Indians tells that an Iroquois wise man discovered the sweet sap of the maple.
I have researched that today, about 90% of the world production of maple syrup is concentrated in the areas of eastern Canada, particularly in the provinces of Quebec, Ontario and Nova Scotia, where a particular variety of maple finds its natural habitat.
The maple sap collection is the first step for the production of maple syrup.
At the beginning of spring, the collection of sap begins but the “sweet season” is quite short: in fact, the harvest takes place in a few weeks, in a period of time when the particular climatic conditions cause a precise pressure inside the maple bark, which facilitates the release of its stored water.
Just as it happens in other countries during the harvest of grapes, local people live the harvest of the sap as a moment to share with their loved ones happy moments and families have picnics around this time eating tires, a kind of bonbon obtained by pouring warm maple sap on the icy snow and rolling up the dense sweet dough that is obtained.
But from the maple tree not only syrup is obtained, there are many by-products of the processing such as maple sugar, a granular powder used to make candies or vinegar, made with water and leftover sap.
In Canada, maple syrup is considered an essential ingredient for local cuisine, not only it is poured over fritters and pancakes but it is also used in the preparation of savory dishes, roasted meats, salmon and even in cocktails. The real Canadian maple syrup is 100% natural without added sugars (unlike the caramel-like sugary syrup usually served in the United States).
Based on the degree of refining and maturation, and consequently based on its color, there is an official designation of origin classified into 4 different types, from golden (the most valuable) to amber to dark and very dark.
Since it is not a product of animal origin, it works perfectly even in vegetarian and vegan diets and it can be eaten by people suffering from celiac disease, as it is naturally gluten-free.