March 24, 2017 by
While spring in Ontario can be a difficult time to endure with its abundance of mud and erratic temps, it does bring us one very special reward—delicious maple syrup! With its luminescent amber hues, intoxicating aroma and exquisite earthy flavour, it’s no wonder this liquid gold has become a favourite treat. It has also inspired a plethora of festivals and events, two of which happen to take place right here in Waterloo Region.
Since 1965, Elmira has been home to a Maple Syrup Festival, an event which has grown to become the World’s Largest Single Day Maple Syrup Festival (as recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records with 66,529 people attending in 2000). This year the event takes place Saturday, April 1, 7am-4pm and is jam packed with activities, demonstrations, tours and tastings. More info about the festival can be found here http://www.elmiramaplesyrup.com/the-festival/
A more recent event hosted by the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers’ Association is Maple Weekend which takes place the first weekend in April every year. The event began in 2015 and quickly spread province wide. Maple Weekend is a great opportunity for consumers to get up close to a local maple syrup producer and see first-hand how maple syrup is made. Participants can learn more about the traditions of maple sugaring and take part in a range of family-oriented activities and experiences. For more information, including local offerings click here.
Here at Foodlink Waterloo Region we have many farm partners that tap trees right on their farm and boil the sap to produce their own maple syrup. One such farmer, who is also taking part in the Maple Syrup Weekend April 1 & 2 is Kevin Snyder of Snyder Heritage Farms. Recently we caught up with Kevin and had the opportunity to ask a few questions.
Q: How long have you been in the maple syrup business?
A: We’re a 6th generation farm producing maple syrup. I’ve been helping my whole life.
Q: How many trees do you tap?
A: We are currently tapping about 2100 trees or 3200 taps all on pipeline with vacuum. In 2009 we were at 1250 buckets (life is easier now) as vacuum increases yield by 25-30%.
Q: How long is the process from start to finish to make maple syrup?
A: Our evaporator is a continuous flow. The sap goes through a reverse osmosis machine first and removes 2/3 of the water-- a big energy saver! Our evaporator is 3.5’x14’. When we are running we process 2000L of sap and make about 50L of syrup an hour.
Q: What’s the difference between the different grades of maple syrup (light, amber, dark etc)
A: A new grading system came into effect this year. North America is all the same now. I like the new system as it has taste descriptions with each grade. Grades and flavour change as the trees go from winter to spring. All maple syrup has the same sugar content, 66-67% brix, and is also cooked the same amount of time.
Q: How much sap does it take to make 1L of maple syrup?
A: Most sap is 2% sugar, so it takes 40L of sap to make 1L of maple syrup.
The Foodlink website features an interactive map that helps consumers find local food. One can search for specific items or farms in our region. Why not search maple syrup to find a local farm, talk to the farmer and get to know more about where you food comes from. Taste the difference local makes!