The Great Maple Syrup Showdown
Did you know: one gallon of maple syrup sells in excess of $70 in the United States? In other words, that the stuff is liquid gold?
We’re guessing you don’t.
You may also not know that the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers has a huge impact on the price of maple syrup stateside. The Federation controls the cost of syrup much like the way the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) regulates the price of oil. In 2012, millions of gallons of syrup were stolen from a reserve facility owned by the Federation. Altogether, the stolen syrup is worth an approximate $18 million. That’s the largest agricultural theft in history. The shortage could mean a change in price controls governed by the Federation as well as higher prices for syrup in the United States.
Thankfully, the Lalonde family (my parents) tap their own trees and operate a small maple syrup business, the McIntyre Maple Company, in Northern New York during sugaring season – a period of four to six weeks between March and April when maple trees produce sap. Sap is a sugar water that, when boiled, becomes syrup. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of syrup. So far this season, my family has collected and boiled more than 2,400 gallons of sap. The process is extremely time consuming and is heavy on manual labor. It also calls on one’s ability to drive a tractor up steep hills and through epic amounts of mud without getting stuck. That alone takes talent.
I made the mistake of mentioning the family business in class one day. That’s when Mr. Ryan Morrison had the brilliant idea for a taste test and dared me that I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between Aunt Jemima and the maple syrup I’d made with my own bare hands (mostly my Dad’s bare hands, I’m just taking most of the credit).
Big mistake, Mr. Morrison.
I came to the LASIS newsroom equipped and ready for the-ultimate-in maple-syrup-showdown, bringing the good stuff, and Eggos. Our editor supplied the Aunt Jemima’s.
Every reporter did a blind taste test, and because Mr. Morrison thought that the color of the maple syrups in their respective dishes would tip me off, I was literally blindfolded. Didn’t make a difference. The verdict was unanimous. Lalonde maple syrup: 7, Aunt Jemima: 0.
Even Mr. Morrison understood why there’s a premium put on the real deal: because it’s just so darned good.