If you live in an area that has experienced one of the coldest, iciest winters on record, then like me you’re welcoming spring with open arms! The never ending winter conditions have been costly to local produce farmers including Canada’s iconic maple syrup. The trees need cooler but not frigid nights at about – 5 ˚C and warmer days at about 5 ˚C for the sap to flow properly. Do you hear that Mother Nature, we are ordering up warmer days (plural…days)? As a result, the maple syrup this season will be delayed.
Canada’s ‘Typical’ Maple Syrup Season
The delicious maple syrup season varies across the country. There is usually a two to three month window for both the harvesting and processing. The time frame is typically made in the months of late January into April depending on the region of the country as well as the weather. The tapping of the trees starts in late January. Either modern tubing process or steel can be used to collect the sap from the trees. Once the syrup starts flowing it is usually collected into late March or early April.
Maple Syrup, Antioxidants and Abscisic Acid
A variety of health benefits have been touted relating to maple syrup. Antioxidants are one of the most researched topics for maple syrup with substantiated human health benefits. In 2011, a study was published identifying 26 phytochemicals, a new phenylpropanoid, and three new lignans in maple syrup (1). These active ingredients may decrease the risk for certain cancers including colon, prostate and lung cancer (2-3).
Research shows that maple syrup contains a compound called abscisic acid. This assists in glucose uptake in the muscle and fat tissues (4-5). The mechanism should result in better blood glucose control. This may seem odd, when maple syrup has a high concentrate of sugar (glucose). Research is ongoing for this area and human data will assist in expanding our knowledge and recommendations of maple syrup as a sweetener for populations such as diabetics.
Also, stay tuned for more credible research about the ‘original kid from the forest’ (maple sap) being processed and sold as Maple Water!
Maple Syrup Festivals
Are you craving some farm and culinary adventure this spring? Why not check out a Maple Syrup Festival – here are a few – be sure to confirm the dates that the Maple Syrup is flowing!
Orangeville Optimist Maple Syrup Festival on March 29-30, 2014
Sunderland Maple Syrup Festival on March 29-30,2014
Elmira Maple Syrup Festival on April 5, 2014
I’m always looking for ways to jazz up sandwiches with dried fruits, herbs and now maple syrup! Check out this maple chicken salad pita recipe from purecanadamaple.com.
- Li L, Seeram, NP. Further investigation into maple syrup yields 3 new lignans, a new phenylpropanoid, and 26 other phytochemicals. J Agric Food Chem. 2011; 59: 7708-7716.
- González-Sarrías A, Li L, Seeram NP. Anticancer effects of maple syrup phenolics and extracts on proliferation, apoptosis, and cell cycle arrest of human colon cells. J Funct Foods. 2012; 4:185-196.
- Legault J, Girard-Lalancette K, Grenon C, Dussault C, Pichette A. Antioxidant activity, inhibition of nitric oxide overproduction, and in vitro antiproliferative effect of maple sap and syrup from Acer saccharum. J Med Food. 2010; 13: 460-468.
- Desjardins Y, Ratti C, Zaharia I, Abrams S. Maple sap and syrup are a rich source of abscisic acid with potential benefits to health. Acta Hort (ISHS). 2012; 939:129-136
- Bruzzone S et al. The plant hormone abscisic acid increases in human plasma after hyperglycemia and stimulates glucose consumption by adipocytes and myoblasts. The FASEB Journal. 2012; 26:1251-1260.