It’s finally here, well sort of.  Signs of spring have started to emerge from beneath the snow and ice and this past week marked the beginning of maple syrup season.  As the temperatures begin to rise above 0 during the day, the sweet stuff starts to flow.  Not only is maple syrup sweet but it comes with some health benefits too.

Pure maple syrup is a significant source of many nutrients. Maple syrup contains manganese, riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. The key nutrients pure maple syrup contains are manganese and zinc. Zinc is an antioxidant which is also good for your heart, and manganese is linked to HDL, the “good” cholesterol. Both zinc and manganese are important for the body’s immune system.

For people who have diabetes, or anyone who likes to watch their sugar intake, pure maple syrup is a much better choice for a sweetener than sugar or honey. It is recommended to eat foods that have a rating of 55 or lower on the glycemic index. Pure maple syrup is rated at 54, while sugar is rated at 58, and honey at 57.

I am often asked about the benefits of certified organic maple syrup and the truth was I was not sure what the benefits were, so I did some digging. The fact is there is very little difference in the final product of syrup.  It still takes approximately 40L of sap to produce 1 L of syrup. The final sugar ratio is the same and there is no noticeable difference when it comes to taste.  The difference lies in the paper trail produced by the organic certification requirements. Organic certification requires the maple bush owners to adhere to strict standards regarding where the trees are tapped, how they are tapped, the species mix in the bush, fertilizers used, and how the bush is managed among other best practice requirments. Inspections, fees and large paper trails are required to maintain a certified organic bush.  Basically it is ensuring the good health of the bush and the trees for years to come.

I recently spoke with Temples Sugar Bush about their maple syrup operation.  They admit to following the organic practices and principles simply because it ensures the health of their bush and their business.  They are selective with how and where trees are tapped, they ensure a healthy species mix and only use organic fertilizers when required. Its just good businesses practice.  They do not however pay the hefty fees for certification or keep the extensive paper trail certification requires. At The Granary both organic and local are priorities, in the case of maple syrup we sell Temples as we feel they use best practices and produce a quality local product.

Make sure to join us and other businesses from March 28 – April 5 as we celebrate Taste of Maple in Carleton Place.  Check out our event calendar for all the details.