Maple syrup — sweet, flavourful and good for you

The best syrup is still made in the traditional way with a wood fire to boil down the maple water into syrup. Gabriel Morin tends the fire at Erabliere Maurice Jeannotte near Montreal. It is then filtered, tested for water content and tasted before packaging. | Sarah Galvin photo

Maple syrup is a pure, natural sweetener with the only other liquid natural sweetener being honey.

Maple syrup is a good source of riboflavin and manganese and has the trace minerals potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc.

Canada supplies about 80 percent of the world’s maple syrup, and 90 percent of the Canadian syrup comes from the 10,000 farms in Quebec.

However, long before our country was colonized, the indigenous peoples were using maple syrup for curing, cooking and medicinally.

McGill University in Montreal recently released results of its study on the effects of using maple extracts with antibiotics.

Nathalie Tufenkji’s research team is finding that 90 percent fewer antibiotics are needed when paired with maple to achieve the same antimicrobial results.

Tufenkji says other products are on the market that enhance the effectiveness of antibiotics, but maple may be the only natural one.

Warm days and cold nights below freezing start the flow of sap. The sap flow usually stops when nighttime temperatures go above freezing.

The later you go into the season, the darker the syrup becomes.

Light syrups are preferred for maple sugar and maple cream.

The season usually lasts four to six weeks in Canada and ends in April.

The maple syrup industry is not escaping the effects of global warming.

Montana State University assistant professor Selena Ahmed, who is looking into these effects, says producers are collecting less light coloured syrups and more dark and amber syrups during the warm years.

Canadian maple syrup has two grades — Canada Grade A and Canada Processing Grade — and four colour classes: golden with a delicate taste, amber, dark and very dark with a strong taste.

The only difference between maple syrup and other maple products is the amount of moisture. All the products are pure maple.

The maple water is boiled to 104 C (219 F) to make syrup, while maple butter is formed when it reaches 112 C (234 F) and contains 86 to 87 percent sugar.

Maple taffy is boiled until it reaches 113.8 C (237 F). Make snow taffy at home by boiling it to this temperature and then spooning it over snow to cool.

The syrup has only three to four percent moisture left by the time it reaches 123.3 C (254 F) and is made into granulated maple sugar.

Tarter au sucre (sugar pie)

  • 2 c. maple sugar 500 mL
  • 1 c. heavy cream 250 mL
  • store bought pie shell or homemade

Cook maple sugar and cream over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes and then let cool. Pour into a pre-baked crust and bake at 375 F (190 C) for about 40 minutes.


  • 1 1/2 c. flour 375 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1/4 c. butter 60 mL
  • 1/4 c. shortening 60 mL
  • 2 tsp. sugar 10 mL
  • 1 egg

Heat oven to 350 F (180 C).
Mix dry ingredients together. Cut in the butter and shortening until crumbly. Lightly whip the egg and add to dry ingredients. Gently mix until the dough comes together. Knead one or two times. Chill.
To bake, roll pastry a little larger than the pie pan. Fit into the pan and trim the edges. Lightly prick the pastry all over with a fork. Bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool before adding the filling. Adapted from Erabliere Maurice Jeannote.

One bowl apple cake with maple cream

  • 2 c. finely diced, peeled and cored apples 500 mL
  • 1 c. sugar 250 mL
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil 60 mL
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. baking soda 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon 5 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 1 mL
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts 125 mL
  • 1 c. flour 250 mL

Heat oven to 350 F (180 C).
Add diced apples and sugar to a large bowl. Let stand for about 15 minutes. Pour in oil and egg. Stir. Add dry ingredients. Stir.
Add vanilla and walnuts. Stir. It will be quite stiff.
Pour into a well greased and floured eight inch (20 cm) square pan. Bake for 45 minutes.
Cool in pan for 10 minutes on a cake rack.

Maple Cream

  • 1 c. maple syrup 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream 125 mL
  • 1 tbsp. butter 15 mL
  • pinch of salt

Boil until it reaches 240 F (115 C) or the soft ball stage. Stir in butter and a pinch of salt. Cool. Serve at room temperature or warm slightly. Store in the refrigerator.

Maple Butter Tarts

  • 12 purchased tart shells or homemade pastry
  • 1 c. raisins or walnuts, optional 250 mL
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c. maple syrup 250 mL
  • 2/3 c. brown sugar, packed 150 mL
  • 1/3 c. butter, melted 75 mL
  • pinch of salt

Roll out pastry and cut into 12 circles and place in tart tin. Sprinkle raisins or walnuts in the bottom of each tart.
Beat together eggs, maple syrup, brown sugar, butter and salt. Pour into unbaked tart shells, about two-thirds full.
Bake at 375 F (190 C) for 20 to 25 minutes, until set.
Cool five minutes and remove from pan.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at Contact:


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