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Maple Syrup and Sugar: The Sweetener of Spring

Debra Redalia

 

Collecting spring sap from sugar maple trees to make maple syrup.

 
Last week I suddenly wanted maple syrup on my morning brown-rice-and-fruit and then I realized, “Of course! The sap in the maple trees must be rising!” And I was right on time. I just looked it up online and just about that time there was a flurry of news reports that the maple sap was running.

Though it won’t fully be spring until the Spring Equinox this weekend, we are in a period of time where winter is ending and spring is coming, thus the trees are exacting expressing the activity going on in Nature at this time. I love this.

While almost everyone has eaten the industrial imitation “pancake syrup” made from corn syrup, artificial maple flavor and preservatives, real maple syrup is quite a different thing.

Real maple syrup is made from the sap of the sugar maple tree. Every spring, as the tree comes back to life after the cold of winter, the sap begins to run. That’s when trees are “tapped” to release the sap into buckets. The sap is then collect and boilerplates down into syrup and sugar.

While this is a perfectly natural process which has been going on for centuries, when you buy maple syrup it is important to buy syrup tapped from certified organic maple trees to make sure no toxic substances have been used in growing or tapping.

While maple syrup is a sugar, as sugars go, I consider it to be a whole food. It contains antioxidants and many nutrients and there is no processing other than boiling to reduce the water in the sap down to syrup.

I use it sparingly for the flavor, particularly at this time of year. My favorite way to eat it is to drizzle it over brown rice with raspberries. There is something about the raspberry flavor with the maple flavor that I love. No need to soak a plate of pancakes with maple syrup to get that maple flavor. A little goes a long way.

Most natural food stores carry organic maple syrup, here are some organic brands that are available online: