Spring in Canada is Maple syrup season. Before I went to Canada with Maple From Canada, I had NO idea on how maple syrup was made. Coming back from our amazing ambassador trip, I am excited to share everything I have learnt about this amazing natural sweetener.
What is Maple Syrup made of?
Who else thought that the golden liquid came out of the tree just like this? ME!
But no, the maple trees actually create Sap water, which is composed at 15% of natural sugar. Not to be too scientific, but the natural sugar is coming from the nutriments in the ground, the the maple tree needs to grow.
To bring the syrup to its 68% of natural sugar, the Sap water is boiled to evaporate the water, and only keep the natural sugar. This is the boiling process that gives it its beautiful golden colour and natural flavours.
Why is there a Maple Season?
Another thing I totally ignored, that there is a Maple syrup season! In my head, it could be harvested all year long, well, WRONG. The harvest depends massively on the weather.
What happens, is that during the cold season, the water that the tree extract from the ground through its roots, freezes. Now, this is when the weather (and so the affects of Climate Change) comes into play. The Sap water starts to flow when the snow and ice start to melt, and the temperature start to rise. To harvest the melted Sap water, the farmers put some tap inside the trees – that doesn’t affect or hurt the tree, just like our skin, maple trees have cells to reconstruct itself.
You need 40L of Sap water to make 1 L of Maple Syrup. Most of the farm we visited have up to 30 000 trees!
Does Maple Syrup always tastes the same?
The answer is NO. Just like wine, the colour, quality and tastes depends on when the sap water is harvested. There are 4 type of Maple, that all have different colours and tastes. The lighter the colour, the softer flavour it is and the darker the colour, the more woody the taste. More information on this HERE
What can you cook with Maple Syrup
Another that blew my mind. There are SO many things you can do with maple syrup! I have a very good Canadian friend who always told me that they use it for everything, and that is true! At the end of the day, it is a natural sweetener, also vegan, and when cooked, just taste like a delicious caramelly sweet flavour.
You know everything about maple syrup now, let me tell you a little bit more about the trip in Montreal itself, and the amazing other Chefs I met. We visited some amazing Sugar Shacks and had amazing food ALL DAYS LONG!
A quick explanation of Sugar Shacks. They are restaurants usually run by the maple farmers, attached to their maple factory. Every Spring, it is traditional to go to the sugar sack and have a traditional meal to celebrate the maple season. The food is wholesome and always drizzled with Maple 🙂
We visited the best cooking school of Canada and were challenged to come up with our own recipe. Of course, I did something sweet, being a homemade baker, but some other chefs came up with some amazing savoury dishes! I was lucky to cook alongside Michelin stars Chefs and it was such an experience to see them work and come up with their dish.
My highlight was not only meeting these amazing people…
… But also our experience at Au Pied De Cochon by the famous Martin Picard. It has now made my top 5 restaurants I have eaten in the world, and it was truly fantastic! Every Canadian dreams about going to eat for dinner there. They only open for reservation ONCE a year, and it gets fully booked in 2h. We were very lucky to be able to get the VIP experience, and I left feeling like a duck that had been forced fed, but I loved every moment and dishes.
If you were still wondering whether than Canada was a good place to visit, or whether Maple Syrup was just “natural sugar”, I hope my experience has encourage you to try yourself at Maple baking and plan your next Canadian adventure!