Webinar: Making Maple Syrup 101
Andrew Major is hosting a free maple syrup webinar, with his mother Sylvia, on March 12.
Sign up for Making Maple Syrup 101, and get tips from this five-generation syrup boiling family.
Learn about how to identify a sugar maple, source inexpensive tools, how to tap a tree, boiling techniques and over 100 years of family secrets.
You will be able start a family tradition or just become more knowledgeable about a delicious part of Canadian culture.
The webinar is from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. and is presented by The Glen Huron Inn, Georgian Bay Wildlife, Clearview Township and BruceGreySimcoe/RTO7.
Registration deadline is 10 a.m. on Friday, March 12. Advance registration is required, and is capped at 100. Sign up at www.discoverclearview.ca.
All participants will have access to the recorded webinar, plus the final version will be posted on YouTube.
Maple Syrup, Acer saccharum
My grandparents were the first to introduce me to maple syrup making on their farm in Rocklyn. My mom and dad took their turn to teach us and I have continued this generational tradition by not only sharing it with my wife and children, but with family, friends and anyone who desires to learn about making maple syrup. There’s no real science, just knowledge passed down and fostered through experiences.
Once a year, in late winter/early spring, sugar maples or hard maples, can be tapped for their sap, which is then boiled down to make delicious maple syrup. In fact, red maples can be tapped for sap too, even white birch, but sugar maples are the most common choice. The sugar content in maple sap is the highest of all sap producing trees. During the winter starch is stored in the roots of trees and when ideal weather conditions begin, that starch is turned into sap and sent up the trunk from the roots into the branches to kick start bud development. The sap runs along fine capillaries called xylem that is situated in the sapwood, which is behind the outer bark. So, augur about two inches in order to reach that layer of wood. Basically, ideal conditions include cool nights, in the minuses and warm days in the pluses with lots of sun, this creates a freeze and thaw movement of the sap and will offer higher yields.
Sap is just sweet water that tastes great. When we tap a tree we use a hand augur to drill a hole then hammer a spile to collect and direct the sap in the pails that hang from them. We collect the sap and begin to boil it on a large outdoor pan. Larger operations will use an evaporator. Our syrup tends to take on a smoky flavor since it is cooked out in the open. The golden rule of sap to syrup ratio is you need 40 litres of sap to make one litre of syrup. After many hours of boiling, or when your eyelids stick together, the sap will become golden. At this stage we remove it from the heat and take the boiled down sap into the house to be finished off. This means some more boiling and cleaning out the impurities using cheesecloth before canning.
Syrup is typically graded by its colour, density, and clarity. Grade A syrups range from golden, amber, dark and very dark. We are most familiar with Grade A maple syrups. On the farm we make amber to dark to ranges of syrups and they taste amazing. Not only is making maple syrup fun for everyone but it’s a natural, healthy alternative to refined sugars and honey. Loaded with antioxidants and phenolic compounds, don’t be afraid to stack a few more pancakes on your plate and let the syrup flow!
Andrew Major lives in Clearview and runs educational wildlife tours through georgianbaywildlife.com. He is also the Birds Canada ambassador for Simcoe County.