Sunday, April 19, 2009

The master syrup maker

Maple syrup is synonymous with Canada and one of the rituals that spell spring. It is delicious syrup but labour intensive to reach that final amber liquid.

This image is one provided by Paulette for a drawing challenge on Drawspace. She's lucky enough to have a relative who is in the industry - this is the syrup master at work, monitoring temperatures of the boiling sap. I did a quick sketch then added some colour to it.

Some facts about maple syrup:

  • Canada produces 80% of the world's maple syrup - the majority coming from Quebec.
  • Maple trees most commonly tapped for sap collection are Sugar Maple, Black Maple, Red Maple, and Silver Maple. These maple trees are common in the Northeast United States and Eastern Canada. The Sugar Maple and Black Maple provide the highest sugar content, and therefore are ideal for a better maple syrup yield and shorter boiling times.
  • Production is concentrated in February, March, and April, depending on local weather conditions. Freezing nights and warm days are needed in order to induce sap flows.
  • It takes approximately 40 litres (10 gal) of sap to be boiled down to 1 litre (1 quart) of syrup.
  • In Quebec, New Brunswick, eastern Ontario, and New England, the process has become part of the culture. One tradition is going to sugar houses (cabanes à sucre) in early spring for meals served with maple syrup. A typical offering is pancakes, baked beans and sausages, followed by a Tire sur la neige (in Quebec), maple taffee (in English Canada), and sugar on snow (in the United States). This is thickened hot syrup poured onto fresh snow and then eaten off sticks as it quickly cools.


vivien said...

mmmm I like maple syrup :>)

but NOT absolutely not with savoury foods!!!!

Jeanette said...

I stock up on real maple syrup every time I go to Ontario or Quebec. And I'm due to go to Montreal at the end of May...mmmm mmmmmm

I like maple in sweet things too.

Robyn said...

Beautiful treatment of the Syrup Master, Jeanette - the soft colours and wonderful structure of his features.

And now I know why Maple Syrup is so expensive. I had no idea it was so concentrated. I used to love it with pancakes and crisp bacon. Stopped eating the bacon years ago but still carry the memory.

Jan said...

I like when you paint varied subjects but you are definitely first and foremost a people painter! This is terrific!

laura said...

I grew up on the fake stuff, but after visiting a syrup maker in New Hampshire and seeing how labor intensive the process was, I vowed to never use anything but the real thing--which is divine stuff!
My "significant other's" grandfather made maple syrup--his mother's family's from Quebec--and she has wonderful photos of the cabanes a sucre.

Jeanette said...

Thanks Robyn. Faces are always interesting to draw.

Maple syrup is heavenly. I think its one of my staples that's always in the cupboard.

I'm glad you like it Jan. It was fun to do and I agree, people and portraits appeal to me most.

there's nothing quite like it is there Laura?

Paulette said...

Hi Jeanette,
You really did a great job with the skin tones and his look!
Great info you added too!
Let me tell you they make some great syrup!
The meal I grew up with was a pancake pile- pancake, over easy egg, pancake, over easy egg, pancake, butter then drenched in syrup. (course that was the manly man sized one!)I'm good with one and