Many people, even lovers of this delicious liquid gold, don’t know maple syrup has its own day dedicated to learning about and celebrating it!
So, before delving into the history of and the most popular thing to put on pancakes, waffles, French toast and more, it’s probably a good idea to take a moment to thank the maple trees for the sap that becomes the sweet syrup that everyone knows and loves today!
That’s the whole focus of National Maple Syrup Day!
History of National Maple Syrup Day
National Maple Syrup Day was created to celebrate the amber substance people have all come to know and love. Much of the maple syrup that most people experience today is almost always manufactured in Canada, but even the United States has its own maple syrup production area–mostly surrounding the northeastern states, such as Vermont, but also other northern states, like Michigan.
Maple syrup is a substance that’s usually made from the xylem sap of a few different varieties of the maple tree, including the sugar maple, red maple, or black maple tree, although it can be made from other species of maple as well. In cold climates, these trees store starch in their trunks and roots before the winter. The starch is then converted to sugar that rises in the sap in late winter and early spring, bringing with it a delightfully sweet flavor.
Maple trees are tapped by drilling holes into their trunks and collecting the exuded sap. This sap is then processed by heating it to evaporate much of the water, leaving the concentrated syrup. In earlier times, maple syrup was first collected and used by the indigenous people of North America.
According to aboriginal oral traditions, as well as archaeological evidence, maple tree sap was being processed into syrup long before the Europeans arrived in the region. Perhaps the Europeans, who eventually settled there, actually learned the refinement process from the indigenous people who had been living on that land for centuries.
Legends exist of when maple syrup was first created, one of the more popular legends tells of how maple sap was used in place of water to cook venison served to the chief of the tribe.
Another story of the Chippewa and Ottawa peoples goes that one of their gods saw that his people were becoming too lazy to hunt and only wanted to drink the maple syrup directly from the trees. So he cast a spell on them to make them watery, requiring them to work hard prior to being able to enjoy the syrup!
Now, the Canadian province of Quebec is by far the largest producer of maple syrup, contributing to more than seventy five percent of the world’s output of maple syrup. After Canada, the United States takes a close second.
How to Celebrate National Maple Syrup Day
To celebrate this day, all it takes is to find a few ways to indulge in this rich, tree-blood based syrupy delight! Try out these different ideas or come up with some other unique ways:
Enjoy Maple Syrup for Every Meal
Start by making a breakfast that would go well with real maple syrup. For example, pancakes, waffles, French toast, and crepes would all be an excellent choice to start off this National Maple Syrup Day celebration.
For lunch, make a PBMS (Peanut Butter and Maple Syrup) sandwich. Instead of jelly, we will use maple syrup in its place, and enjoy the rich, sweet goodness.
For dinner, it would be possible to use maple syrup as a glaze for ham (not just for the holidays), as a side dipping sauce for sushi, or even a topping for vegetables (such as carrots or sweet potatoes) for anyone who might feel like it.
Learn Fun Facts About Maple Syrup
Get on board with National Maple Syrup Day by sharing interesting facts and tidbits that many people won’t know about it. It’s a great way to learn a bit more and educate the people around you as well! Here are a few fun facts to get started with:
- One gallon of maple syrup requires gallons of syrup to make. This is because the sap comes out of the tree very watery and requires a heating process to turn it into actual, pure maple syrup. And since a single tree produces between 5 and 15 gallons of sap each year, it can take a few trees just to produce one gallon of syrup.
- Maple trees that make syrup are pretty old. In fact, they usually are not ready to be tapped for syrup until they are around 45 years of age. That’s pretty old to just be getting started in a career. The good news is that a maple tree can yield sap for around 100 years–so their life span is pretty good!
- Retrieving sap from maple trees requires particular weather conditions, where the ground is very cold at night and then warms up during the day. These fluctuations in temperature creates positive and negative pressure to get the sap flowing.
- Indigenous people not only taught the European settlers about making maple syrup, but they also taught them to preserve meat through the use of maple curing, which is functional and delicious.
Stay Healthy with Maple Syrup
While some people might avoid maple syrup because it is a bit on the sugary side, those are not empty calories (like maple-flavored syrups). Maple syrup actually offers a few different nutrients to the body, such as zinc, calcium, potassium and magnesium, as well as antioxidants. As long as it is used in small quantities, maple syrup can be a smart way to provide a bit of sweetness to a healthy diet.