Maple Sugar

 

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Maple sugar is made from the controlled crystallization of maple syrup and takes several forms. Granulated maple sugar looks like brown sugar with variable grain size. It is easy to store in air tight jars and it will not mold or separate. Granulated maple sugar is often sifted to create a uniform sugar. There is nothing wrong with large crystals, they are edible and the same exact thing as the small crystals but they can cause difficulties in measuring and should be reserved for other purposes. The difference in measuring kosher salt and regular table salt are similar.

To make granulated maple sugar it is important that you start with 100% pure maple syrup. Pour the maple syrup into a medium saucepan; pour between one and 1.5 inched of syrup. Maple syrup can produce a lot of foam when heated so use a larger pan than you think you will need.

Heat the syrup to 40-45F above the boiling point of water, water boils at 212F at sea level. When the syrup reaches the desired temperature immediately transfer it to a flat pan (with sides) stir the syrup as it cools until there is no more moisture and the granulation is complete.

Several types of maple sugar candy can be made by varying this process. By changing the temperature the syrup is heated to, when and how it is stirred and how it is molded you can make molded maple hard candy, molded maple soft candy, maple butter, maple fondant and maple nougat.

Not all maple syrup is suitable for making sugar. In order to have small crystals form the invert sugar must be less than 10%. The tests for invert sugar and confusing and not readily available for the home sugar maker so the general rule is that lighter syrups (grade AA, grade A) contain less invert sugar than darker syrups and are more likely to create a useable sugar.

While maple sugar is hardly a health food it is better than most of the alternatives. Maple sugar is made from boiled tree sap, heating and mechanical straining are the only forms of processing it goes though. It contains more trace minerals (including manganese, zinc and copper) and antioxidants than cane sugar. Honey is another natural form of unprocessed sugar. Cane sugar is refined from sugarcane, a tropical grass. Sugarcane refining includes several chemical processes to remove impurities and to increase the sucrose content. The sugarcane industry has a larger impact on the environment due to fertilizer run off, pesticide applications and refinery emissions.
 

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