“It is the sweet, simple things of life that are the real ones, after all.”
– Laura Ingalls Wilder
Is there anything more Canadian than maple syrup? It is often said that the taste of it cannot be described, its distinct flavour so unique that it doesn’t resemble any other flavour on earth. As a nation we may identify ourselves by the maple leaf, but the leaf is only a symbol of the true value of the mighty maple – the secret treasure of liquid gold that flows within.
Simple research quickly reveals several well-known truths and interesting facts about maple trees and the syrup-making process; some of these offer a compelling comparison to many truths about the Christian life as well, a fitting reminder as we celebrate Canada’s 150th.
- A maple tree is not mature enough to tap, or give of it’s sap, until it reaches approximately 40 years. Tapping a young tree is dangerous because it runs the risk of killing the tree. The maturity of the tree determines when it is ready to to be tapped.
- The sap does not flow fast out of the tree; in fact sometimes it merely drips. Patience and time are needed, and the process can’t be rushed.
- It takes about 40 litres of sap to make one litre of maple syrup – this ‘sugaring’ takes time and a lot of work; it involves intense heat and a whole lot of steam.
- Sugar maples require a cold season including many weeks of below-zero temperatures to convert starch stores into sucrose. What may seem like harsh conditions actually trigger the physical and chemical processes that create the sweet, nourishing sap that the tree needs to survive and to produce syrup for us to enjoy!
- Maple syrup was the main sweetener used by early colonists because sugar was highly taxed and very expensive. Over time, many substitutes have been developed using high fructose corn syrup, cellulose gum, and caramel coloring; these products barely even resemble the taste of pure maple syrup and have little or no nutritional value.
- According to acadianmaple.com, many nutrients are naturally found in pure maple syrup, including zinc, potassium, manganese, thiamine, calcium, iron, magnesium and riboflavin. Zinc is an antioxidant and is known to be good for heart health. Just a quarter cup serving of maple syrup provides 41 percent of your daily requirement of zinc and also provides 100 percent of your daily requirement of manganese
- The real thing comes with a cost, but has infinitely more value. The price of maple syrup has climbed 182 percent since the end of 1980, more than crude oil and gold.
This dessert crumble is deliciously sweet and simple, allowing the maple flavour to shine. While the main ingredient is costly, it’s worth it!
Maple Apple Crumble
- 5 apples; peeled, cored and sliced
- ⅔ cup maple syrup
- ½ cup butter
- ½ brown sugar
- ¾ cup flour
- Pinch of salt
- ¾ cup rolled or quick oats (not steel-cut)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place apples in an 8×8 inch baking dish. Pour the maple syrup over the apples, toss to coat. In a bowl, cream together the butter and brown sugar. Stir in the flour, salt and oats. Sprinkle this mixture over the apples and press down.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes or until golden and bubbly and apples are tender.
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