Maple: a local treasure
Spring is almost here, and that means it’s just about time for this year’s crop of maple syrup – the pride of Quebec that everyone awaits so eagerly. How much do you know about this classic local product?
In the kitchen
You can enjoy maple products in any season and in many different kinds of dishes. In the spring, try some Balsamic Maple Dressing on a salad or drizzled on shredded ham. In summer, use it as a glaze for barbecued meats or marinate your fish in a Maple-Asian Marinade. In the fall, try a delicious Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Soup or add some to a stew to give it a little boost. In winter, include it in the sauces for your comfort-food dishes or as the sweetener in a Maple Tiramisu. All of the different maple products have their culinary uses. Blend, simmer, poach, caramelize, drizzle, flavour! To substitute one cup of white sugar, use 1 cup of maple syrup but cut other liquids by ¼ cup to avoid an over-moist dish. Maple sap, syrup, butter, sugar and flakes, as well as fine processed products like maple vinegar, spirits and liqueurs, can all go into your favourite dishes.
Contrary to popular belief, maple products are not purely seasonal. They have a long shelf life, making them suitable for year-round use. In fact, canned maple syrup has no expiry date. As long as it isn’t exposed to air, maple syrup can be kept at room temperature for several years. Once the container is open, the syrup should be stored in an airtight plastic or glass container in the refrigerator, where it will keep for several months. For longer storage, it’s preferable to put your syrup or other maple products in the freezer. That’s the best way to preserve an opened container.
We aren’t the only ones who love all things maple! Did you know that Quebec’s maple products are exported to more than 60 countries? They can be found in Germany, Japan, India, the United Kingdom, the United States and Argentina, among others. Quebec produces more than 72% of the world’s maple syrup. There are some 13,300 producers across several regions: Chaudière-Appalaches, Beauce, Lotbinière, Bas-Saint-Laurent, Gaspésie, Centre-du-Québec, Côte-du-Sud, Estrie, Lanaudière, Mauricie, Montérégie, Outaouais, Laurentides and Quebec City.
Maple trees are an ecological boon, and there are some 34 million of them in Quebec. Each year, they capture the equivalent of the carbon emissions of 290,000 cars. Our active sugar bushes capture and sequester eight times more carbon than processing the sap emits. The result: using a teaspoon of maple syrup rather than sugar in your coffee each day for a year is like dedicating a single maple tree to your personal sugar consumption. By using more maple products, we help protect Quebec’s sugar bushes. Imagine our collective power over our maple forests!
These are just some of the reasons to be proud of this unique-tasting product that heralds the arrival of spring. This liquid gold has close ties to our identity as Quebecers. The harvest is coming very soon, so watch our social media to find out when this year’s crop will start appearing in our markets!
Text prepared in collaboration with Érable du Québec. Photo credit: Érable du Québec.
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