Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Muskoka Maples

It’s almost Spring and you know what that means…warmer weather, longer days and maple syrup! Humans have been harvesting the sweet nectar from maple trees for centuries. (One of the first recorded notes was in 1606.) You’re probably familiar with its delicious, rich taste and how it gets from tree to bottle, but here are a few facts about maple trees and syrup that you may not know:

  • There are 13 different maple species in North America that can be tapped for syrup. Two of them can be found in Muskoka: Sugar Maples and Red Maples.
  • The Sugar Maple is the most common species tapped because it has the sweetest sap. It takes 40 litres of sap to produce one litre of syrup. Other maple species require more sap (5­0-70 litres) to produce one litre of syrup.
  • Sugar Maples can live more than 200 years. They don’t reach tappable size until they are about 40 years old. Depending on its size and weather conditions, a Sugar Maple will provide 35-50 litres of sap during the sugaring season.
  • The leaf of the sugar maple appears on the Canadian flag.
  • Most maple syrup hobbyists use traditional metal buckets for sap collection. Large commercial operations use a plastic pipeline system that was patented in 1959. In 1997, permanent tubing was introduced allowing producers to leave their collection systems in place year-round.
  • Canada produces 83% of world’s supply of maple syrup. The top three producers are Quebec (the #1 producer in the world), Ontario and New Brunswick.
  • Maple syrup is good for you (at least as far as sugars go). It has no fat, no preservatives, fewer calories than honey, and, because it’s not refined like white sugar, contains a variety of vitamins and minerals.

You can find maple syrup throughout the summer at local farmers’ markets, but if you want to see how the syrup is produced you’ll need to visit in the spring. Muskoka unfortunately does not have a maple syrup festival but there are several within driving distance. The closest is the Powassan Maple Syrup Festival, held this year on April 28. (Powassan is 50 minutes north of Huntsville on Highway 11.)

It’s March break right now and the forecast for the rest of the week is gorgeous! If you’re looking for a quick get-away, why not come and visit us? And remember, Easter is just around the corner. By then, our waterfront cottages may just have a water view again (but a bit too cold for swimming still!). We look forward to seeing you soon!

The Howell Family

No comments: