FOR THE ;rst major holiday I celebrated
with my guy, I received a half gallon of
maple syrup from Vermont, his home
state. Having grown up with syrup that
was, shall we say, less than ;;; percent real
syrup, I was bowled over by the rich taste.
My delight turned to devastation when I
learned the hard way that—unlike the imitation stu;—real maple syrup needs to be
refrigerated after opening.
I’ve been loyal to real maple syrup ever
since. And, considering that Costco is
poised to sell millions of ;-liter bottles of
Kirkland Signature™ Maple Syrup globally
this year, I’m in good company. So, imagine my delight when I had the chance to
join a team of Costco buyers to learn how
Kirkland Signature Maple Syrup is made.
Our syrup travels took us to the
rolling hills of Vermont and New
Hampshire and then across the
border into the idyllic landscape of
Quebec. Seventy-;ve percent of all
maple syrup sold worldwide is produced in that province. While most
Kirkland Signature syrup comes
from Quebec, Costco’s Northeast
warehouses sell syrup produced in
Archaeological ;nds show that
maple syrup was being boiled down
and used as a sweetener long before
European settlers made their way to
North America. The long-practiced
tradition of turning sap into syrup
hasn’t changed much over the decades, with the exception of improved equipment, which allows for
better yields, food safety and consistency of quality.
Maple trees measuring at least ;
inches in diameter can be tapped,
beginning as early as December.
Additional taps are added for every
;-inch increase in diameter, with a
maximum of three taps per tree.
From there it’s a matter of waiting for
Mother Nature to help out. Maple syrup
season typically lasts from mid-March
until mid-April. Ideal conditions consist
of nights that are below freezing, with
days that reach around ;; degrees to allo w
the sap to run. The cold nights are essential to keep the trees from budding, which
imparts an undesirable ;avor.
One of the great surprises of the trip
was learning that maple sap is like slightly
How maple syrup makes
its way from tree to table
Canadian editor Stephanie
E. Ponder ;lls this month’s
consumer reporter slot
with this behind-the-scenes
look at a Costco program.
Email questions about this
article to buyingsmart@
sweet water, rather than the sticky sap
many other trees produce. We even had
the good fortune to try some from a tap.
“One tree can produce up to ;; liters of
sap water, which is boiled down to ; liter of
pure maple syrup. Therefore, each tree
produces approximately ; liter of syrup,”
says Lyne Chayer, vice president, sales and
marketing, of Costco maple syrup supplier
L.B. Maple Treat.
The buyers and I marveled at the lines R E C I
;⁄; cup, plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup maple syrup
Herbes de Provence, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
Bell peppers, leeks, mushrooms, onions,
zucchini and/or asparagus, sliced
A few drops of balsamic vinegar, to taste
Whisk together olive oil, maple syrup, herbes
de Provence, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour
over vegetables and toss. Bake vegetables on
a cookie sheet at 350 F, or simply fry or grill,
for approximately 20 minutes. Before serving,
brush on a few drops of balsamic vinegar.
Makes 4 servings.