Originally Posted by Alix
...OK, questions here. Um, is there no real maple syrup in the US? Why is Canadian maple syrup so prized? Maybe I am jaded since it is all I have ever had.
And kitchenelf, what is European butter? And have you tasted Amarula? Try a little of that instead of your Kahlua. You will LOVE it.
I'm not surte how I managed to post a "no-reply", but I obviously did it. So here's my reply. Maple syrup, of course comes from sugar maple trees. They are found all over Canada and from Northern Wisconson to Vermont. To get really good syrup, the nights must be cold, with warm/sunny days following to get the sap running profusely in the trees. Syrup flavor wil vary depending on weather conditions, soil, how long the sap is boiled, etc.
I have made maple syrup by tapping trees in my neighborhood. It came out wonderfully rich and flavorful. There are several areas withing a 100 mile radius that comercially produce maple syrup that is as good as any I've tried from Canada.
I have a freind in Ontario (St. Joseph's Island) that makes syrup every year, from trees on his land. The flavor varies from year to year due to weather conditions.
Obviously, there are areas that get just the right weather conditions more frequently than others. Uppper-[eninsula Michigan get that kind of weather, but there is no real industry here for making large quantities of syrup. We have the trees and climate, but for whatever reaason, few people do it.
Wisconsin can say the same thing, as can Minnesota, especially the Northern parts.
Vermont turned syrup making into an industry and is famous for the quantity and quality of their syrup. They are also know as cheese artisans, especially cheddar. The people who settled the state were agriculturally minded. Their main state buisness wasn't cars or other industry. It was farming and producing food.
Much of Canada is rural and forested with Sugar Maple trees. And their are many more people there willing to take on the time and labor intensive job of making maple syrup. And the high cost is because, if I remember correctly, it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. And all of that extra moisture has to be boiled away. That takes a lot of sap hauling, wood cutting of specific hardwoods such as tamarack, or white-oak, or maple for fuel.
Of course in a more industrial setup, natural gas is probably used to heat the evaporators.
I've see syrup go for anything from $15 - $25 bucks per gallon. The stuff is truly liquid gold. But it doesn't come easy.
I too love real maple syrup, as well as maple sugar (sap cooked down until it resembles brown sugar), and maple flavored products, such as maple nut ice cream.
Of course this has to be a rare and small treat for me, just like all other sugar based sweets. But that occasional little taste helps make life worth living.
In decades past, maple used to be the primary sweetening agent from the Great lakes to the northern east coast. Now we just get the cheaper stuff.
And baked beans, well you can guess how they were originally made; with maple syrup of course.
Hope this answers one of your questions.
Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North