CHC CANADA 150 FOOD BLOG CHALLENGE
Prelude: I am a proud Canadian. When the Culinary Historians of Canada invited food bloggers to participate in the “CHC Canada 150 Food Blog Challenge”, I knew that I wanted in! What a great way to celebrate and honour Canada’s 150th birthday by featuring a different Canadian dish or discussing a topic which reflects on what it means to be Canadian. For March, the topic is maple. For that reason, I am pleased to present: Maple – A Timeless Canadian Tradition.
I was excited to learn that this month’s challenge is maple, a favourite in both sweet and savoury recipes. Even before I began my research for this article, I was very much aware that maple has evolved from its humble beginnings as a natural sweetener. Maple syrup is one of Canada’s quintessential food products.
I sometimes think that we, as Canadians, take maple syrup for granted – it is not just for pancakes and waffles. We have what the rest of the world wishes they could access as easily as we can. Many of my international colleagues have Canadian maple syrup on the top of their shopping list whenever they come to Canada.
Maple Syrup is uniquely Canadian with 80% of the world’s production coming from Canada and 91% of our domestic production originating in Quebec. My research indicates that in 2015, Canada had an annual maple syrup production of 8,908,000 gallons, generating revenue of $358 million CDN.
Canada’s maple syrup has health benefits that far exceed any other natural sweetener. It has over 60 anti-oxidants and minerals including calcium, copper, manganese, potassium, zinc and sodium, which offer a number of health-related benefits.
Why is maple syrup so timeless in its uses and its benefits? As a chef who works in recipe development on a daily basis, I have noted that the use of maple syrup has evolved into an important lifestyle and culinary movement – essentially the elimination of white and brown sugar and the reintroduction of natural unprocessed sugars such as honey and maple syrup. These ingredients are being substituted for granulated sugar in home kitchens as well as commercial kitchens. Canada’s Maple syrup has specific health benefits, which makes it a superior alternative to sugar. (See the topic Maple Syrup Substitution in Recipes below).