Maple is Scientific

Maple syrup is a sweet, natural product that many people enjoy on their breakfast, in their cooking, and in a host of other ways. However, maple syrup has been of interest to scientific researchers too for its properties and potential uses. Let’s take a look at some of the interesting scientific properties surrounding maple.

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Maple is Local

As we enter late summer, county and state fairs are in full swing celebrating the agricultural, horticultural, and creative endeavors of their local and regional producers. One product you may come across as you visit livestock barns, food booths, and rides is maple syrup. Since its discovery, maple has been and remains a local product.

Maple is a local product because of the specific region it comes from. Maple syrup can be produced only in the Northeastern part of North America. The majority of the world’s maple syrup comes from Canada, while the Northeastern United States adds to the global supply. Although maple trees can grow in a wider area, maple syrup production is confined to this specific region because of its climate, which is ideal for sugar maple growth and sap production. In order for maple sap to flow for collection, there must be cold nights with temperatures below freezing followed by relatively mild temperatures in the daytime. This region’s late winter and early spring offers this particular climate, making it ideal for maple syrup production.

Maple syrup has always been a local product. First Nations peoples in Canada and various Native American tribes in the United States were collecting sap and using it to make a form of maple sugar and for cooking purposes long before Europeans arrived in the New World. Through interactions with Indigenous peoples, French settlers in Canada were producing maple sugar by the early 1600s, and English settlers in New England followed afterward. Through these colonies, Europeans got to taste maple for the first time, and it was well-liked, leading to further development in the colonies. Although farmers in the newly formed United States tried to move maple production further south in the late 1700s, they discovered the trees did not thrive like they did in the Northeast and Canada.

Throughout the centuries, maple production continued to develop with improved tapping, the creation of the sugarhouse, and other inventions like the evaporator, tubing, reverse osmosis machines, and more to help the area’s producers and bring about the maple industry as we know it today.

Since maple syrup is unique to such a specific area in the world, maple syrup production is a unique activity to those who live in that area. Whether a maple farmer who has an operation with thousands of taps or the hobbyist who boils sap on the kitchen stove for fun, maple producers are locals making maple products for their neighbors. Although maple syrup makes its way to places around the world, it retains its local-community feel. Maple producers are highly involved in their operations and have a heart for their consumers to make a good product, regardless of whether their maple syrup goes across the globe or across the street.

So, even though maple season may seem far away, remember the maple syrup you drizzle on your pancakes at breakfast or you see in the grocery store may come from somewhere nearby. Your neighbors or others near you may be maple makers themselves – look for them in the maple tent at the fair. As much of agriculture looks ahead to the harvest, remember to celebrate your local maple producers and the unique harvest they’ve already completed for you!

About Real Maple: Real Maple is the only natural sweetener made from one botanical ingredient – maple sap – with no added colors or flavors. 100% pure maple syrup is a natural sweetener that contains vitamins and minerals that help maintain and support a healthy body. Real Maple truly is The Smarter Sweetener. Keep up with Real Maple on Facebook and Instagram (@userealmaple) for nutrition information, fun facts, recipes, and more!

NH Maple Producers Association holds Summer Meeting

Meeting included tour of Shaker Village in Canterbury

On Saturday August 14, a small contingent of members of the New Hampshire Maple Producers Association gathered for the 2021 Summer Meeting at the Hubbard Gallery within the Shaker Village in Canterbury.

President Dave Kemp kicked off the meeting by welcoming attendees and introducing Jason Lilley, of UMaine Extension, who gave a presentation entitled Maple Quality Control. Lilley said there are many reasons a syrup sample can be disqualified from judging, most of which are avoidable if sugarmakers keep some basics in mind.

Lilley discussed the four areas of maple grading and what can go wrong within each area. For density, he spoke about the need for accurate tools, like the hydrometer, and gave some tips to ensure sugarmakers are using theirs properly. He led the group in some math calculations for temperature correction and shared with the group an online temperature correction card that can help with the math calculations. Next, Lilley discussed syrup color. One of the key points he mentioned was if syrup color is close between two options, it should be given the darker grade. Regarding clarity, Lilley noted how proper filtering is critical. And after discussing flavor, Lilley “treated” the group to some syrup tasting. Some in attendance might not consider the samples a treat! Lilley shared additional resources related to flavor and taste: Off-Flavors as well as the Map of Maple from the University of Vermont.

Lilley let the group know there would be a maple grading school after the International Maple Conference in Niagara Falls NY in October for anyone who might want to extend their trip.

Following Lilley’s presentation, the group heard some updates on Association business. Bud Taylor spoke about the upcoming Big E and Deerfield Fair. Because there was not enough interest from members in staffing the booth at the Big E, Taylor was in touch with Gail McWilliam Jellie from NH Department of Ag, who was going to look into the possibility of hiring a concessionaire so the maple industry still could be represented at the event. For the Deerfield Fair, workers are still needed (September 30 through October 3), and anyone interested can contact Taylor directly. Taylor also brought along the boxes of Association apparel, including t-shirts, fleece jackets, and hats for anyone who might be interested in purchasing them. Also if anyone had suggestions for other items they might be interested in purchasing, they could make a request. For NH Eats Local month, the kick-off event was held on August 1 although a representative from the Association was not present. Kemp shared an update from the container committee. There was a question about the possibility of making the brochures for distribution at the highway rest areas. Stephanie Kelly from MAC/FC said the Promotions Committee had one meeting last month and meets again this week. The Committee did not discuss this project yet but will, along with a number of other projects. Kemp spoke about the Maple Museum, which has been inaccessible because of work being done at the Rocks Estate in Bethlehem. The Board is hoping to hold an in-person meeting there when the facility is reopened.

After business was discussed, the group headed downstairs in the Hubbard Gallery for lunch
before being led on a special tour of the Shaker Village.

Maple is Versatile

Maple products are used in many areas from cooking to medicinal research

When most people think of maple syrup, they think of the sweet substance that goes on top of their pancakes or waffles. But did you know maple syrup is used in many more ways than just a way to sweeten your breakfast? In its chemistry, range of products, and range of uses maple is shown to be a highly versatile food.

To start, maple syrup is versatile in that it comes in many different variations. Maple syrup comes in four different grades each with its own unique flavor and color. These grades are: Golden – Delicate Taste, Amber – Rich Taste, Dark – Robust Taste, and Very Dark – Strong Taste. These different grades depend on the amount of time the sap is spent in the evaporator and the time of the maple season that the sap is collected. Lighter grades with their sweet and delicate tastes are better as a garnish such as topping your pancakes, yogurt, or ice cream. The bolder maple tastes of darker grades are less palatable for most people and are used more for cooking purposes. However, the best grade is the one you like most!

Maple is not confined just to syrup. Maple sap can be turned into a host of different maple flavored products. In addition to maple syrup, sugarhouses will often make products like maple candies and maple cream or butter. Maple flakes and maple sugar can add maple flavor to recipes in which they are used. Specialty items such as maple flavored condiments, coffee, granola, and others add a maple taste to well-known food items too. Even maple water, which is purified sap from the maple tree, is gaining popularity as a functional beverage similar to coconut water. These are just a few examples of the products that can be made from maple.

Maple offers many options when it comes to cooking. Due to its unique flavor, it can enhance the taste of well-known dishes or be the feature taste in a dish or bake. Maple can be used to create rubs or glazes for meats like beef, chicken, seafood, and more. Some examples include Maple-Miso Baby Back Ribs and Maple-Ginger Buttered Salmon. Being a natural sweetener, maple syrup and other maple products are often used in baked goods or desserts. Its versatility makes it appealing in simple bakes like Maple-Blueberry muffins as well high-quality desserts like Maple Forest Cake or Maple Sugar Canalés. Maple’s use in cooking extends to many other options like alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, soups and stews, snacks, breakfast items, Barbecue, and so much more.

Maple is used in cuisine around the world, including Japanese food. While this may seem like an unexpected pairing, maple contains aromatic compounds that are found in smoked products often used in Asian cuisine. This makes it a pleasant pairing for Japanese foods. Chefs of different expertise are seeking maple more and more in their cooking. Restaurant chefs, pastry chefs, bakers, mixologists, chocolate makers, and others are fond of maple’s many qualities and incorporate it into their culinary creations. Check out our Recipes page for ideas for using more maple in your cooking!

100% pure maple syrup is natural, unrefined, sterile, gluten-free, vegan, with no artificial colorants, flavorings, or preservatives. It contains 100 essential nutritional compounds including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, phytohormones, and 67 polyphenols. No wonder maple syrup is the subject of scientific research in labs at home and around the world.

For the health-conscious consumer another of maple’s attributes is its health benefits potential. A 60 ml (1/4 cup) portion of maple syrup provides 72% of the daily nutritional requirement of manganese, 27% of that of riboflavin, 17% for copper, and 6% calcium. It’s considered a source of calcium, a good source of copper and an excellent source of riboflavin and manganese. Laboratory research in a variety of cell and animal models has revealed that maple syrup has several compounds that may help on several areas affected by chronic inflammation. These include metabolic syndrome, brain health and liver disease, as well as maple’s emerging link to healthy gut microbiome. These findings remain to be validated and confirmed in human clinical studies.

Athletes have also found maple to be a natural source of energy because it provides simple carbohydrates, which easily breakdown into glucose. People like these, with active lifestyles, eat or drink maple products in some form (and there are many) before, during, and after exercises. This being said, it is important to remember that maple syrup does have a high sugar content. When choosing a sweetener of moderate use, it appears that 100% pure maple syrup has more healthful compounds compared to other sources of sugar. However, it is important to use it in moderation. Drizzle, don’t guzzle, as maple researchers like to say.

The versatility of maple may also extend to medicinal uses. Researchers at the University of Rhode Island have investigated maple and its parts as potential nutraceuticals and dietary supplements. A nutraceutical is a food that contains additives beneficial to health or for medicinal purposes. Research, led by Dr. Navindra Seeram with the financial support of the Québec Maple Syrup Producers (QMSP), has revealed that Native Americans used various aspects of the maple tree for medicinal purposes hundreds of years ago. Convinced that this was a lead to be discovered QMSP asked themselves, “Why don’t we try the same?” So, in recent years Dr Seeram and his team have taken a holistic approach to studying the maple as a whole and discovered its full potential.

One of these is Maple Syrup extract (MSX). It is an extract of the 100 bioactive compounds identified in maple syrup without the sugar part. The MSX is derived from industrial grade maple syrup that is classified as a “buddy” taste and is not palatable for consumption making it a by-product of the industry. This type of syrup is ideal for producing MSX and making a value-added extract that can be introduced into many formulations to enrich a food, or as a plant supplement similar to supplements such as tea extract or cranberry extract.

Bioactive compounds have also been discovered in the leaves of red maple trees that can help protect the skin from wrinkles, inflammation, and dark spots. Researchers are investigating whether these cosmetic benefits found in maple could lead to the formation of a more natural “plant-based Botox” for skin care.

Discovered in 2011, a unique, polyphenolic molecule in maple syrup, Quebecol is a natural compound that forms in maple syrup during the boiling process. It has an exoskeletal structure similar to Tamoxifen, which is a drug known to treat certain forms of cancer. Although more research is needed, the synthetic molecule of Quebecol and its analogue, isoquebecol (synthetized by Dr Normand Voyer of Laval University) have demonstrated their ability to decrease the production of inflammatory mediator and may have potential pharmaceutical uses.

About Real Maple: Real Maple is the only natural sweetener made from one botanical ingredient – maple sap – with no added colors or flavors. 100% pure maple syrup is a natural sweetener that contains vitamins and minerals that help maintain and support a healthy body. Real Maple truly is The Smarter Sweetener. Keep up with Real Maple on Facebook and Instagram (@userealmaple) for nutrition information, fun facts, recipes, and more!

Osborn Family Sugar House Wins the Carlisle Award for Best NH Maple Syrup

As interesting as 2020 was, there was at least one thing that was not affected: the sap running from the trees. Because there was still sap, that meant sugarmakers still did what they do, so there would still be a Carlisle Award to win. Under usual circumstances, entries for the Carlisle Award must be qualified during NH fair season by being judged at a participating NH state fair and placing in the top three of NHMPA members at the fair. The Board decided, to help maintain normalcy, they would adopt a one-year rule change because there were no fairs, and the winner of the award did not need to be present at the Annual Meeting to be eligible to receive the award this year. It took 46 years, but Steven Osborn of Osborn Family Sugar House in Boscowen finally won the Carlisle Award for the best syrup in New Hampshire. Osborn started attending NHMPA meetings in 1974, and most every year entered his syrup in the contest, known to be the most rigorous in the US maple industry. Until this year, the best he had done was third place. Other winners: 2nd place: John and Jen Scarinza. 3rd place: Rusty and Aggie Colby. 4th place: Charlie Hunt.

Maple is Pure

100% Pure Maple Syrup is only table syrup made from only one ingredient – maple sap.

 It is written on every label: “100% Pure Maple Syrup.” But what is it about pure maple syrup that makes it “pure?” A deeper look into the sweetener shows there are certain scientific and sentimental elements that give it its purity.

Most of what makes maple syrup pure is in the production process. Maple syrup is made from the sap that forms naturally in the sugar maple tree. Sap is collected by tapping trees when sap naturally begins to flow in the late winter or early spring. Small spouts are inserted into the tree to channel the sap from the tree into vacuum-sealed tubes that transport it to collection containers. After collection, the sap is boiled in an evaporator. The boiling concentrates the sap down into syrup. Some producers run the sap through a reverse osmosis machine first, which removes water from the sap and makes the boiling process quicker. Pure maple syrup is just sap from the maple tree without the water.

The sweetness of maple syrup is naturally occurring so there are no added sugars, additives, or preservatives, making it more pure than other table syrups. There are no added colors to maple syrup either. The color, as well as the smell and taste, of maple syrup comes from the caramelization that occurs during the evaporation process. The varying colors and flavors depend on the amount of time the sap spends in the evaporator and also the time of the maple season that the sap is collected. The lighter-colored and delicate-flavored syrup grades come from sap in the early part of the season that requires a shorter time in the evaporator. Meanwhile, syrup grades with darker hues and bolder maple tastes come from end-of-the-season sap that requires longer boil times.

Leading maple researcher Dr. Navindra Seeram from the University of Rhode Island says, “Nature is the best chemist” when it comes to maple syrup. The syrup-making process brings out the natural characteristics of sap, which makes for a pure product to enjoy.

Pure maple syrup contains over 100 nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and polyphenols to name a few. Each of these compounds occurs naturally in maple syrup, and, when consumed in moderation, maple syrup can be a source of nutritional value for the consumer. Maple syrup is also a natural source of energy. Maple syrup provides carbohydrates, which break down into glucose. Glucose gives energy to the body for doing physical activity and also helps the body recover afterward. Again, nothing is added to give maple syrup these beneficial qualities. Whether a professional athlete or someone going on an afternoon bike ride, maple syrup can be an excellent source of natural energy for an active lifestyle.

One other aspect of maple syrup’s purity is not found in the makeup of the food but rather in the makers themselves. Maple trees are found only in a specific portion of North America, predominantly the Northeastern United States and the province of Québec in Canada. That means sugarmakers are locals producing syrup for their neighbors. While maple syrup is exported around the world, it retains a small-town community feel because producers have a heart for their consumers. They work hard to make sure their syrup is pure and made in the proper manner. This all may sound a bit “sappy,” but the “pure intentions” of producers is what makes the maple syrup industry so sweet.


About Real Maple: Real Maple is the only natural sweetener made from one botanical ingredient – maple sap – with no added colors or flavors. 100% pure maple syrup is a natural sweetener that contains vitamins and minerals that help maintain and support a healthy body. Real Maple truly is The Smarter Sweetener. Keep up with Real Maple on Facebook and Instagram (@userealmaple) for nutrition information, fun facts, recipes, and more!

Local sugar houses open doors for Maple Month

March is prime maple sugaring time, creating the best conditions for local producers and hobbyists to collect sap and turn it into the New England staple. This month, producers are opening the doors to their sugar houses to give interested residents a peak at the process.