Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I know that I'm buying real maple syrup and not the fake stuff?
- Pure maple syrup is 100% pure, free of any colouring, additives or preservatives. When buying maple syrup, be sure to check the label. Many imitation or pancake syrups contain no maple syrup at all. Some may include maple syrup in their ingredient list if there is a small amount added, but they will also have many other ingredients listed (such as high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavourings and colouring agents). If you're buying pure maple syrup, maple syrup will be the only thing on the ingredient list!
- How should I store my maple syrup?
- Unopened maple syrup should be stored in a cool, dry spot. After opening, store in an air tight container. To slow the natural crystallization process, keep maple syrup in the refrigerator. If, after extended storage, mold should form on the surface of the syrup, the original quality can still be restored. Remove the mold, heat the syrup to boiling, skim the surface, rinse the container and refill it with the hot syrup. For longer storage, it is recommended to keep maple syrup in the freezer. Freezing the syrup will slow the natural deterioration of the flavour, colour and quality. Although it will not freeze solid, it will become thick and expand. Be sure that there is sufficient room in the container to allow for the expansion.
- What makes the maple tree sap sweet?
- In the fall, the maple tree stops growing and begins to store excess starch throughout the sapwood (beneath the bark and outside of the heartwood). When the wood remains colder than 4.5oC, the starch remains in storage mode, but once it warms up to approximately 4.5oC, enzymes begin to change the starches to sugars (mainly sucrose) and these sugars dissolve in the sap. As temperatures consistently approach 10oC, the enzymes stop functioning and sugar is no longer produced.
- What makes the sap run?
- The rising temperatures in late winter and early spring create pressure within the tree, causing the sap to run.
During warm periods when temperatures rise above freezing, positive pressure develops in the tree. This pressure causes the sap to flow out of the tree through a wound or tap hole. As the pressure drops during the day, the sap flow slows down and stops. Negative pressure develops during cooler periods overnight when temperatures fall below freezing and the tree draws water from the soil through the roots. This replenishes the sap in the tree, allowing it to flow again when temperatures rise above freezing the next day.
- Why can we only collect sap for a short time every year?
- Once the temperatures no longer fluctuate between below freezing at night and above freezing during the day, the pressure within the tree stabilizes and the sap stops flowing. This means that we are only able to collect sap when the temperatures are above freezing during the day and below freezing at night, generally for about 6 weeks in late winter and early spring.