Buckets hanging on maple trees may have worked great 200 years ago, but modern producers use a system like the internet: a series of tubes!
In this episode, we join the Garland family on their century-old farm where they gather maple sap from trees in the area and transform it into delicious liquid gold. Their farm is located in the bilingual region of Eastern Ontario, near Ottawa. They have been collecting maple sap throughout generations, first using the traditional method of spile and bucket and boiling the sap down on a box stove, and now modernizing their process to use pipelines and an industrial-grade evaporator. They currently have approximately 4,200 taps and are working their way up to a large-scale product of 10,000. The process involves collecting the sap, then boiling it down to a thick syrup, and refining it into an edible product. The most surprising part of the process was that maple sap actually carries lots of natural, gritty sands that need to be filtered out. How long does the process take? Well, we were there for about 16 hours to film, and Ivan was still working hard after we left at 1:30am on the same batch. Although the concept of the process is simple, it is hard-work requiring plenty of supervision and technical knowledge.
What does maple syrup taste like? In Europe, the type of tree syrup mainly produced is birch syrup…which allegedly tastes "more like medicine". Maple syrup tastes very sweet, but has a nice smokey flavour. It's great for dressing pancakes, waffles, meats (such as bacon), and is quite versatile in baking. Did you know that, unlike other syrups and sugars (brown sugar, corn syrup), maple syrup is actually good for you? It carries minerals such as: calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, potassium, and iron among others. Other sugars offer little to none of this nutritional value.
Maple syrup is used to make soft candy, maple butter, maple jelly, maple popcorn, maple sorbet, maple cones, maple tarts, and maple cotton candy. It can be used in place of regular sugars as a sweetener in baking or drinks, and has lower glycemic load than brown sugar. It's basically a super food! One that tastes great.
I like listening to their accents, too! Le fils est un bel homme!