Great and original Blog
Greetings from a Portuguese Engineer
Greetings from an Arizona Engineer.
Turpentine is also tapped from trees, however it is distilled, not reduced. One must be certain to ascertain the variety of tree being tapped before one should sample the sap. Sugar Maple, Ok. Conifer Not OK. :-D
The Old Soldering Gunslinger
Wow, he actually SHUT UP about all the hits he was getting, and is actually talking about cooking? Incredible.
Of course, he's posting meat recipies, which is pretty bad. Meat is murder. This is simple common sense.
What is that stench?
Oh, yes... it is just a troll, envious of other people's success.
For what it is worth, I'm quite enjoying this site. Oh, and yes, I eat meat. Lots of it. Enjoy it immensely.
More meat dishes! :D
To "the troll":
Technically speaking, the last entry he mentioned his recent increase in traffic was LAST Monday. If you don't appreciate Michael's hard work and success, then simply DON'T COME. I highly doubt anyone is forcing you to read this blog. I suggest you go find an unsuccessful vegan recipe blog to satisfy your needs and stop posting your negative remarks here.
Then again, any form of vegetation is considered a living organism as well, for shame! You'd better stop eating these as well, lest you become a "murderer" like the rest of us!
In all seriousness, this is a great blog and the recipe charts are simply amazing, so simple and compact yet so intuitive and complete. It really boggles my mind that such a superior format has not been more widely adopted! Keep up the good work!
Now we engineers can show our cooking prowess too!
- Greetings from a Canadian engineer. ;)
I have kept maple syrup, packed in vacuum sealed bottles, for well over a year with no discernable loss of flavor. I have found medium amber to be the most flavorful; light amber does not have enough flavor. Also, the darker the grade, the lower the price. Although it is expensive in the store, I recommend going to the source to buy it. Currently in Wisconsin, a gallon of maple syrup, bought from a producing farm, goes for $26-$30 per gallon - much more reasonable than the $6-$8 a oint in the store.
Another "difference" between types of maple syrup is whether it is evaporated or boiled down. The old way was to boil down the sap to the syrup over a outdoor open fire, but most modern farms use an evaporator, as the old way is slow and expensive. However, most Canadians will tell you that the old-way boiled down syrup is the best, and if you can still get it at a market it is a lot more expensive, but well worth the cost. I had a 2 litre jug of boiled down maple syrup a few years ago, and have not been able to get anything even close to it it in flavor or consistency since!
Once you have REAL maple syrup... you can't go back to the store stuff.
I also enjoy your site...I've posted a comment or two...and think you shouldn't pay that not-so-nice-guy any mind.
Thank you for the useful info.
Hey, those cooking charts are pretty cool indeed. I must point out though how geeky we are (present company included) for our excitement over things like cooking charts. I admit it, I embrace it, gotta love it. Speaking of charts, feel free to check out my Exam Time Procrastination Flowchart from my student days not so long ago for shits and giggles.
Btw, Michael, did we go to school together (Markella here)? Otherwise you're the 3rd Michael Chu I know/hear of.
Greetings from another Canadian engineer!
Greetings from a Canadian Bio/CompSci student :P
Love the site. Especially the meat.
What should really be mentioned here is a traditional French Canadian treat called cabane a sucre (no idea what us anglos would call it). It entails taking high quality syrup (typically medium amber), pouring it onto fresh snow and twirling the syrup around a stick as it solidifies (think cotton candy but gooey). This makes a tasty maple popsicle for those lovely winter days.
Great stuff. Maybe you compare different instant pancake mixes and a few recipes for making awesome pancakes. I had some frozen pancakes that you pop in the microwave and they were the best, it's too bad I had to use maple syrup from the states (I live in Canada, eh?). This is gonna help me enjoy pancakes even more, thanks :D
re: testing pancake mixes
If someone will mail me an assortment of pancake mixes, I'll do the test... unfortunately, I don't have funds set aside right now to buy a bunch of the same stuff and test it out - although I hope to be able to do that in the future. I'd love to try out different brands or manufacturers and figure out what makes something "good" or "bad".
Nice blog you have here. I posted a link to it on my blog. Hope the best for your blog.
Growing up we always had real grade B on our pancakes, so that's what I'm used to. Can someone who preffers grade A explain why? Is there complexity that I've just overlooked?
You should try pecan pie made with caramel...now that's heaven!
Re: Cabane a sucre
The English translation is "sugar shack"; that is, it is the place in which the maple sap is collected and processed into maple syrup. Pouring the hot syrup onto the snow and gathering it up onto a stick as it cools and hardens to make a sweet treat is one of the things they do at a cabane a sucre. Another tradition is sitting with many other people at long tables and eating foods such as pancakes, baked beans, sausages, bacon, eggs and the like, and smothering them all with newly made maple syrup. All done in the early spring when the sap is flowing.
Is it time for breakfast yet?
Hey - great Blog! "Real" maple syrup is distinguishable from the fake or even 'cut' stuff by one simple method - 100% real (Canadian) maple syrup will remain fluid when frozen in the freezer. The fake or 'cut' syrup will freeze solid like a block of ice. We have two farming families providing us with real (boiled) maple syrup each year and the taste is fantastic. Works great in pie and tart recipies.
I was reading a book on "Country Things" and the Vermont old timer there said that New Yorkers could be counted upon to purchase Grade B syrup, as the Fancy grade was too light-colored to be considered real maple syrup.
He also mentions birch beer and maple sap beer. Said sap beer was foul stuff. Maybe that's why the oldtime song goes
"Wanta get your eye knocked out, wanta get your fill,
Wanta get your head cut off just go up Sugar Hill!"
Great site, love it.
I grew up on a farm in wisconsin and we made our own maple syrup every spring. We just canned it in glass jars and kept it in the basement. It stayed good for years that way without any noticable difference to taste. Depending on how well the sap ran that year you could run out, so we always kept reserves.
Also, growing up on the farm we raised, befriended, and then killed, butchered and ate our food. Hell, I think this country (USA) needs a restaurant where you can pick out your own cow, watch it butchered and cook it while it's still twitching like they do with lobsters. Maybe in Texas.
I am an engineer from Oklahoma and I really love this site! I too say keep up the good work and don't let the root huggers slow you down!!!
I produce several thousand gallons of pure maple syrup each year. ALL pure maple syrup is boiled at atmospheric pressure to a temperature of about 7.1 degrees above boiling water at your locale.
An evaporator is just a very efficient "boiling pot". Modern evaporators make use of heat exchangers to preheat cold ( 40 degree) incoming sap up to the boiling point using waste steam.
There is a correlation between how LONG syrup is boiled and the amount of caramelization that takes place and a modern evaporator does boil quicker than say an old fashioned kettle hanging over a fire.
In the 1930's Land O' Lakes creameries in Antigo, Wisconsin used it's vacuum evaporating equipment to produce maple syrup and the results were not good . The syrup produced was almost clear and had little maple flavor because there was very little carmelization of the sugars at the reduced boiling temperature.
The English equivalent for ''cabane a sucre'' is sugar sack.
I'm from Quebec and I surprise to see how much maple syrup seems to be produced in Wisconsin. Is anyone having to Wisconsin vs Quebec syrup yield stats?
Pouring the hot syrup onto the snow and stirring it up with a stick or spoon as it cools and hardens to make a sweet treat is known as "sugar on snow"
"cabane a sucre" translates to "cabin of sugar", in other words, where maple syrup is made, also known as a sugarhouse, sugarshack, or sugar camp.
Sugar on snow is NOT just hot syrup poured onto snow. Pure maple syrup must be boiled further to increase its density so that the supersaturated solution will harden up when it hits the cold snow. Boil maple syrup to 238 degrees, then drizzle over fresh snow or shaved ice.
I'm so glad I found this post, I just boiled down my first 'harvest' of maple syrup and was wondering why it was so light in color. Because it's early in the season and very cold here in Minnesota, that's why! Thanks for clearing that up![/url]
I am new at this and I'd ask someone to help me with advice. I applied as recruiter manager at JobQueen, they promise to pay $87,000.00/year. I would like to know if they are for real and if they are how can I get quality sales reps in China. I didn't list the domain because promoting something is forbiden in most forums. So if you want to help me out please contact me direct at my email:
A few years ago I tried this 'cleansing' diet that consisted of, you guessed it, maple syrup (grade B dark amber), and lemon juice. And a dash of Tabasco sauce for flavor. (I actually used Frank's Red Hot sauce and it worked just fine.)
Apparently there's enough nutritive value in maple syrup to sustain a 220lb. adult male for at least a month. Crazy, huh? I don't know what purpose the lemon juice served, but it had to be fresh-squeezed, not bottled. Probably some polyphenols or something.
Anyway, I only lost about five pounds, and after two days I had no hunger pangs whatsoever. And the other odd thing is that for some strange reason, I no longer had any bowel movements. Go figure! (The diet recommended some type of liquid that was a clay suspension to pull impurities from the lower intestine. I keep thinking it's call milorganite, but that's DEFINITELY not it!)
I'm recommending anyone to NOT try this unless they do a little research on it first!!
I don't know about the US, but the most common container for Maple Syrup in quebec is the 16-oz can. Usually refrigerated after opening (and consummed rather quickly.)
As for production stats that another poster asked about, Quebec produces about 16 million liters of the stuff and the US as a whole about 6 million liters. Quebec has roughly a 90% share of canadian production which is 75% of world production...
As for maple syrup being eaten on snow, it is called "Tire sur la neige". It is made with a reduced form of maple syrup (just shy of maple butter.) Regular maple syrup is much too liquid to be eaten effectively this way.
Oh, how I love Grade B syrup! After having that, I can't see why anyone would want to go back to Grade A.
To the person who was on the syrup/lemon juice/clay diet, maybe the clay was bentonite?
What happens if you don't refrigerate maple syrup? Does it really go bad?
Oh yes, out of the fridge it really does go bad quite quickly: I tried that once and within a few weeks some beautiful molds were growing on the surface.
I guess I should have known; it's sweet, it's liquid, so moulds and yeasts like the stuff as much as I do...
I made a couple gallons of maple syrup that got mold on it but I didn't want to discard so reboiled it but you can taste the mold. Does anyone know a way to remove the mold taste or what else I could recycle this to? I even thought of putting rice grains or oatmeal into it to maybe soak up the taste, or feed it to my bees to see if they could process it soomehow.....ike[/b]
Wow! Haven't had anyone (but me) talk about maple syrup on snow since an Indian friend in Maine hosted a maple sugar'in party for my family back in the 50's. When your mouth gets so puckered up with the sweet you just can't eat another mouthful, he would give us a sour pickle to bite and you could start all over again!.
Well, about the mold: I remember my mom re-purifying the maple syrup by bringing it to a boil in a sauce pan, adding a little milk and skimming off the foam which formed on the top. I have some that needed this recovery process lately so did as I remembered but the result was that the syrup became cloudy and I could still taste the mold. What did I forget?
For moldy syrup, skim off the mold from the syrup first.
For taste, Grade B syrup has a real robust maple flavor so some folks (probably not old-time Vermonters )actually prefer it for eating. Grade A, light amber has a subtle flavor so isn't as noticable, e.g., on pancakes. Vermonters like it on ice cream or a hot spoonful. Grade A medium and dark amber are stronger as they get darker.
Sugar on snow really has to be eaten with alternate bites of a sour pickle, otherwise it's too cloying except if you're a kid. The big treat: sugar on snow, sour pickle, cake donut, and hot coffee.
What in Canada is called cabane a sucre here in the US is called Sugar on Snow. It's thicker than maple syrup, heated to 230 or so, then poured on snow (fluffy snow, not that icy stuff we get in Connecticut). If you're a kid, you pick it up with your fingers, we engineers need a tool ; hence a stick...
How long does it normally take to boil sap into syrup?
We call the syrup on snow "tire d'erables" (or "taffy" in English).
Around here (rural western Massachusetts), the sugar houses will boil a batch for about 24 hours to reduce it. One place in our extended neighborhood, Gould's Sugar House, has a spot out back where you can try some of the unboiled sap. The difference is amazing - like water with just a touch of flavor. As for syrup, we go with grade B, purchased at Hager Brothers just a couple of miles from us. We moved here less than two years ago and, ironically, we used to buy Hager syrup when we lived in the eastern part of the state and didn't realize that we'd be moving so close.
Today I discovered mold had grown on top of my Maple syrup. I read some advice here and poured it into another container, removed as much mold as I could and then boiled it again. I cleaned out the container and poured the hot syrup back into it. Not it is all one big crystalized mass in a bottle with a tiny neck! Yikes! What did I do wrong and can it be fixed? I live way out in the west with no maple trees for maybe 3 or 4 states. This is a real treat for us. Please help if you can. Thanks
I think that here in Canada (Vancouver anyways) the grading system is different. Ours is Grade A or Light, Grade B or medium and Grade C or Dark or Amber. Early in the season you can get grade A but towards the fall you can only get Grade C. Grade C syrup is really dark and thick and has the most nutrition. However, is is also the most bland and has an odd "powdery" texture within the syrup.
It may help to re-heat in in a large pot of hot water so it dissolves again. You shouldn't need to boil it. Once it dissolves, leave it in the pot of water so it cools s-l-o-w-l-y. Your syrup may still have a moldy smell and off-taste when you're done.
Thanks for your reply! I will try it. I hope I have gotten rid of all the mold I know that it is tricky... It did taste pretty darn good when I was pouring it back into the original container so MAYBE... ;) I'll let you know!
You might need to add a little water to help the syrup stay dissolved if it crystalizes again.
Can anyone tell me what sugar is in maple syrup?
I am trying to avoid fructose.
Maple syrup is almost all sucrose. The darker the maple syrup is, the more fructose and glucose it typically contains.
If the syrup is actually moldy, there's nothing that you can do to salvage it -- pitch it out.
It's more likely that what you're observing is fermentation rather than mold. (With a yeasty alcohol odor rather than the mustiness of mold). If that's the case, you can boil it and skim off the yeast. You'll never get entirely rid of the yeastiness, so use that syrup for baking, where a yeast taste won't be objectionable. And maybe buy a fresh bottle to put on your ice cream and pancakes.
And keep your syrup refrigerated after you open it, especially in warm weather.
FYI, if you live in a northern climate and have a maple tree, you can probably make your own syrup. I tapped 1 silver maple and 1 Norway maple this spring and now have 6 1/2 pints of delicious syrup.
I used the gas grill to do most of the boiling outdoors, then finished it on the kitchen stove. It's an exercise in patience but a fun project and the syrup makes it worth the effort.
My husband thought I was eccentric the first time I did this. Now he thinks I'm resourceful :)
Cindy T in MN
We have been making maple syrup in a primitive way (big pan over a fire pit) for a few years in SW Wisconsin, and prefer what we call Grade D (Diesel) syrup. Very dark and smokey. The first time we produced it, we weren't so sure about it. Man, was it smokey. The next time we made syrup, we unintentionally isolated the wood smoke from the surface of the pan, and it tasted very, well... Plain. Our kids were so disappointed they got really mad and upset, and blamed us adults for ruining it! That was so funny!
This year was the first time since that "plain" batch a few years ago, and it is unquestionably, without a doubt, certifiably Grade D. Yuuuuuumm!
So, anyone got any opinion as the the health effects of ingesting all that wood smoke via syrup? Not to mention all the smoke we breathe while boiling the stuff down.
Joe Pie Guy
The reason that Grade A has the weakest Maple flavor, is that when the standards were established, Maple syrup was often the only sweetening agent available to many women. Since they didn't want ALL of their cooking to taste like Maple, the sweetener with the most neutral flavor was considered the most desirable.
Now, of course, most of us would like the most Maple flavor possible, in our syrup, so take advantage of this archaic system, if you can.
I wish they sold Grade B in Publix.
Greetings from Ontario:
We also produce a lot of maple syrup in this province -- I buy Canada #1 Light. Very yummy!
I would pitch any out that was mouldy myself (and I'm not a stickler about that sort of thing). To avoid mould, I throw the glass bottle in the freezer, and just haul it out whenever I need some. It doesn't freeze or crystalize, it stays runny, and it lasts indefinitely. I haven't tried it with a can, but have never heard that it behaves any differently.
The maple syrup in the snow with a stick thing I always heard referred to as "sugaring off", but when I look it up online, I see that "sugaring off" either refers to the whole maple syrup making process, or the party that one has while sugaring off. I don't know -- deelish by any name.
I usually strain "the mother" off..and it is usually fine..Seems to me tho, that at one time, maple syrup NEVER went bad.
Can Refrigerated Maple Syrup ever go “bad”?
Thanks in advance,
can crystallized maple be fixed so that is smooth syrup again?
>>can crystallized maple be fixed so that is smooth syrup again?
yup. just warm it gently and the sugar crystals will re-dissolve.
(a hot tap water bath is usually enough)
Hi can someone give me an example brands of 100% Grade B Maple Syrup? Also if you can tell me where or what store I can buy this Grade B Syrup...
difficult to say not knowing where you are or what markets are in your area.
however, USDA specifications for 100% pure maple syrup are consistent - the major difference between Grade A and Grade B is color - tho many folks feel Grade B has more depth of flavor.
if your supermarket has an organic or natural section, look there - anything labeled "maple flavored" is not what your are looking for. it will most likely be labeled with the grade - but color is the tip off. Grade A is a light amber color, it is almost transparent. Grade B is noticeable darker - more like the "maple flavored" pancake syrups ala Aunt Jemima / Log Cabin.
my store has "the good stuff" in the organic section and the cheap stuff in with the pancake syrup stuff.
Every Christmas my mother in law provides us with a couple of gallons on beautiful maple syrup which we store in the fridge. By spring the syrup has the fermented taste I've read about. There is no mold and it's a golden syrup color. I have a candy thermometer. Does anybody know the time or temp the syrup should be if I reboil it. My grandsons love it on their pancakes so I hate to waste it. Apparently it taste better than my blackberry syrup :D !! Thank you for your help.
wow, can I get on your MIL's Christmas List? <g>
>>>the time or temp the syrup should be if I reboil it.
it will vary a little depending on sugar concentration but it is about 219-220'F.
care is required! it can be scorched / burnt.
the question is "why reboil?" - if the sugar has crystallized you can warm it - no need to get to the boiling point....
I am from west csntral indiana and have produced syrup over 40 years. There is not offical grading here in INd. I have noticed in recent years a growing demand for the darker syrups.. People want more bang for their buck.. It can be frustrating after spending so much time and energy to produce the lighter syrup. I tap about 700 and make around 150gls. We have found the local farmers market to be our best outlet.. With dedicated return costomers we are able to sell for $16.00/pint. As for storage i always reccomend to agitate the syrup after it is at a stable temp.. Syrup at 66degres brix will not support mold or yeasst.. it is the tin film of condensate on the surfaqce that does.
whew. that's a lot of work! but very commendable!
as a teenager I visited with some family who sugared - fascinating but wow the time and effort was staggering. there's no ON / OFF switch for the pan - once started the work isn't done until the pan sez so......
I buy the real stuff and don't even blink at the cost having seen /participated in what it takes to make.
my own taste goes to the dark side - I love that flavor. the lighter grades may be "more delicate" but for flavor zap! I go with the darker grades.
"Fancy" grade maple syrup (the extra light Grade A) is often relatively flavorless. If you've never tried it, get some real Grade B. I agree with some others here that it's simply better for most purposes (cooking, baking, pancakes, etc.) because of its rich flavor. If you just like sprinkling sugar on your pancakes, etc., then use Fancy. If you actually like the full, rich maple flavor, skip Grade A (or at least go for the dark stuff).
My wife and I get a lot of our maple syrup these days from friends who tap their trees and makes their own every year. At first, they were hesitant to give us the dark stuff, because they said it wasn't what most store-bought maple syrup was like. Now we request the darker syrup, which is basically Grade B (though they don't do official grading since they don't sell the stuff). Some of it would even be Grade C or commercial grade, which is generally only used for commercial flavorings. It's amazing stuff, like fine chocolate. It may seem weird, but we save the darkest stuff to have by itself on pancakes and waffles because its flavor deserves to be savored directly, while we use the "fancy" lighter stuff for cooking or baking when we need to. The darker stuff would make richer tasting baked goods, but it's so amazing by itself that it deserves to be eaten that way.
Unfortunately, maple syrup grading seems to take its lead from the people who like white bread, white rice, and white sugar -- items that pride themselves on removing the natural flavors inherent in whole wheat, brown rice, and natural sugar. If you like the latter, stop spending the money on bland light syrup as well. Grade B syrup goes great with whole-wheat or whole-grain-blend pancakes and waffles, where grade A light can't stand up and just tastes like a thick sugar solution whose flavor is lost... though I will admit that trickling a little high quality Fancy Grade light syrup on mild vanilla ice cream is an experience not to be missed.
Hello - My family just returned from a skiing trip to Massachusetts and stopped at the Ioka Valley Farm for pancakes on the way home. This farm produces maple syrup from over 6,000 maple trees on the property - since 1936. The owners are very proud of their various grades of syrup and provide a wonderful education on the original, very simple boiling process. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. If you are ever in the Hancock area - stop buy this old-fashioned working farm. P.S. - I agree with several of your other guests - grade B for me.
I have always wondered what he various grades meant for syrup, so this is great way to distinguish. I have always bought the dark grade A and noticed how it overwhelmed the flavor of my pancakes, so I think I will start buying the lighter versions.
How do you know if your syrup is scorched or not?
Everything I read says that you are supposed to use a bleach solution to disinfect your equipment. Now, is it possible to use vinegar instead of strong chemicals (bleach), as it can disinfect items too.
by taste I suspect . . [?]
regarding disinfectants, bleach is widely used because it is effective against a wide range of bacteria. whether vinegar would be satisfactory for (sugaring equipment?) depends on what kind of bacteria are present - if you know what kind of bacteria are typically floating around you could research whether vinegar would be effective.
bleach is not really such a bad actor - see:
which discusses quite a number of different disinfecting agents, but here's an interesting snippet for bleach:
By far the most cost-effective home disinfectant is the commonly used chlorine bleach (a 5% solution of Sodium hypochlorite) which is effective against most common pathogens, including difficult organisms such as tuberculosis (mycobacterium tuberculosis), hepatitis B and C, fungi, and antibiotic-resistant strains of staphylococcus and enterococcus. It even has some disinfectant action against parasitic organisms .
Positives are that it kills the widest range of pathogens of any inexpensive disinfectant, is extremely powerful against viruses and bacteria at room temperature, is commonly available and inexpensive, and breaks down quickly into harmless components (primarily table salt and oxygen).
I never really understood why so many people are afraid to use chlorine bleach and considers it too harsh/dangerous to use in their kitchen. There are even people personally I know who won't use chlorine bleach but have no trouble spraying oven cleaner into their ovens...
methinks a lot of the issue lays at the feet of the tabloid type press - take half-a-fact and spin it into a 30 second sound byte of outrageous conjecture.
like canola oil - made from rapeseed - part of the mustard family - and we all know where mustard gas comes from . . . well, I know where mustard gas comes from, and it ain't from no plant.
how's it go...? never let the facts stand in the way of a good story?
Yeah, that makes sense. My favorite example is the recent attacks on KFC's Double Down Burger (the one with two fried chicken patties instead of bread) and how it's a heart attack waiting to happen... They even report on how much fat and how many calories it has - but none of the reporters bothered to check that it's exactly the same as a cheeseburger.
Rating syrup as Grade B makes it sound inferior to the others. Grade B is taken later in the season. My preference is Grade B. If I'm going to put maple syrup on my pancakes I want to taste the maple. We purchase it from a small famliy run local syrup producer in VT and they tend to sell out of Grade B because the locals prefer it over the others. This particular family farm only sells Grade A Dark and Grade B.
I heard an oldtimer refer to 'the best' syrup as 12 pound/gallon......
Anyone else have a reference?
maple tree sap is boiled down to maple syrup - which effectively reduces the water content or conversely increases the solids / sugar content.
for legal trade, the density of the finished product is specified by various agencies - however it is usually specified as a sugar percentage - typically the Brix scale (there are other methods)
a little digging turned up this research which specifies the density in grams per ml
which is roughly 1.325 grams per milliliter, or
11.08 pounds per gallon
so a syrup reduced to 12 pounds per gallon would have significantly more sugar - and I suspect be quite a bit thicker that what one finds commercially.