Sap Happy

Discover maple syrup’s fresher, lightly sweetened sister, maple sap

Warmer days paired with cold nights bring on the annual sap run. There is no better way to celebrate the thaw than a trip to your local sugar shack.

Everybody loves maple syrup, but more and more people are discovering the joy and health benefits of drinking the unrefined sap, straight from the tree.

Maple sap is naturally lightly sweetened by sucrose and filled with vitamins, minerals, enzymes and amino acids. Fresh from the tree it gives the drinker a palpable burst of spring energy. It freezes well, so stock up on some local sap from an Island family-run operation.

Doug McLure of PEI Maple Syrup Company in Breadalbane has researched bottling the sap, but it seems Island producers are sticking to its sweeter, more refined counterpart – syrup – for now. Quebec maple producers have started marketing sap in tetra-paks and it is widely available there.

Another untapped resource you might even have in your own backyard is birch water. After the maple run, Silver and White varieties can be tapped for a naturally sweet, distinctive-tasting beverage, long used in Eastern Europe and Northern China as a health tonic.

Traditionally, birch water has been used for detoxifying, diuresis and cleansing, helping to reduce pain, inflammation, uric acid and cholesterol. Interestingly, PEI has a high incidence of health problems, such as arthritis and obesity that could benefit from the therapeutic effects of these common trees all around us.

Trendy top-end restaurants around the world are starting to serve birch and maple sap as non-alcoholic pairings to fancy meals. With their healthy, natural taste, it is only a matter of time before they become as common in the marketplace as coconut water. This is a great opportunity for Island entrepreneurs to tap into a growing global market.

In the meantime, Woodlands Maple Syrup behind MacPhee’s Orchard in Cardigan area is open to the public to watch how maple syrup is made. You can certainly stock up on syrup and maybe you can sweet-talk them into letting you take some sap home too.

About Harmony Wagner

Harmony Wagner began training with the North American Tang Shou Tao Association and her teacher Vince Black in 1996. She underwent a formal apprenticeship with the Four Winds Health Center and was licensed as a Registered Acupuncturist through the CTCMA of British Columbia in 2001. She practices Traditional Chinese Medicine and teaches NATSTA gongfu and qigong in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada.

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