Long before European settlers arrived with the European honeybee to make honey, Native Americans, dwelling in the Northeast, were setting up sugaring camps among the plentiful sugar maple trees each spring. Indian folk tales present several different versions of how it all began. One legend tells the story of an Iroquois chief who threw his tomahawk into a maple tree one early March evening. When he retrieved it the following morning to go hunting, he noticed sap oozing from the cut in the tree. He collected some in a container and his wife added some of the syrup to the meat she was cooking for dinner. As the sap boiled down, a wonderful sweet maple flavor remained. Whatever the actual beginnings, most of the tribes boiled and crystallized the sap they collected into a granulated maple sugar, bypassing the syrup stage, as syrup was harder to store, ending up with a more transportable sweetener. Many recipes in old cookbooks call for “Indian sugar,” for the modern cook, this is Maple Powder. In 1808 Thomas Jefferson wrote, “I have never seen a reason why every farmer should not have a sugar orchard, as well as an apple orchard.”
Pure, granulated Maple Syrup has no additives, preservatives or coloring. Maple Powder provides as much calcium as milk, twice as much potassium as bananas, and is substantially lower in sodium than brown sugar or molasses. Maple Powder is the only all-natural granulated sweetener to be found anywhere. It is truly an amazing product and an equally amazing process. Let’s go through this process one step at a time.
Sap to Syrup
Syrup is produced by evaporating (cooking) the sap until it is 66% sugar. Light colored syrup is usually produced in the early season gradually becoming darker as the season progresses.
Syrup to Pure Maple Cream
The syrup must continue cooking in order to make pure Maple Cream or Maple Butter. Maple Cream is pure maple. It does not contain any other ingredients and is cooked until it is creamy (230◦ F.).
Maple Cream to Maple Sugar Candy
Maple Cream is turned into Maple Sugar Candy by cooking it to a sugar consistency. Some moisture remains but is getting closer to the maple sugar, but can be molded or formed.
The consistency becomes granulated by additional cooking. Maple Sugar is used as any sugar but is better for you and has less calories that white sugar.
When using a creaming machine for the above processes, small hard balls form. These are extracted and smashed to small particles or “maple beads” commonly called “sprinkles” or powder.
If you are out of Maple Powder you may substitute date sugar.