Between the last freezing days of winter and the first warm days of spring, when the days get longer, the nights stay cold and the day temperature reaches a mild 5°C, sugar makers drill a small hole into the sugar-maple tree, place a tap onto the tree, hang a bucket on the tap so that the maple sap from the tree would drip into the bucket and wait for collection. The sap is basically the blood of the maple tree as it stocks sugar and nutrients for the tree to grow. Once the sap is collected, it is then boiled to evaporate water and become a syrup. The syrup is filtered, bottled and it is finally ready to be used over pancakes, French toast, popcorn, ice cream, in muffin recipes and salad dressings, or for an execution of sophisticated culinary...
In fact, long before the Europeans arrived in North America, the Native people have been practicing the art of making this natural product referring to it as "drawn from the wood".
Since, I believe, there is nothing more Canadian than maple syrup (or, perhaps, hockey, according to my son), each year small towns, villages and conservation areas across Ontario host annual Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festivals.
Last week we took part in one of these truly special events, where we started off the morning the only possible way-by overindulging ourselves on the biggest warm delicious pancakes.
Next, we took the horse-drawn wagon ride, walked through the woods to experience again the entire maple syrup process, enjoyed the wood carving, hugged the little goats, bought the purest maple syrup from the "Sugar Shack", met the friendliest people in the area and headed back to the pancake house for more pancakes with more maple syrup...
In other words, we simply did celebrate the first harvest of spring, the simple pleasures of the shortest season of "maple moon" which always comes as a sweet testimony of the arrival of the most promising time period of the year...
Pure Maple Syrup is one of life's simple pleasures and one of Nature's wonders. Moreover, the health benefits of real syrup are far more abundant that one might expect. Coming directly from a plant's sap, this natural sweetener features numbers of natural antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
But in order to get real maple syrup, we have to be conscious and always thoroughly check the labels when we buy it from grocery stores. Statistics show that very often leading pancake syrups contain zero pure maple syrup and rely on high fructose corn syrup and additives like artificial flavorings and coloring agents. Sometimes imitation syrups list maple syrup as an ingredient, when it only contains as little as 5%.
Double-check the bottle to make sure you are getting pure maple syrup and enjoy all the simple pleasure this all-natural energy booster provides.
Hope your days are happy!