How Maple Candy Is Made
A number of my friends in the New England area enjoy maple sugar candy during the holiday season. But maple candy seems to be getting less readily available and the prices are a bit higher than I remember as a kid. I’d heard that it takes a lot of maple sap to make a small amount of maple syrup and maple candy, so I thought I’d find out more about how the candy is made. Here’s what I learned.
The process to make maple candy today is extremely labor-intensive, which explains why it has gotten more expensive. To make a pound of maple candy actually requires 90 gallons of maple sap. And to collect that much maple sap, you have to tap over 350 sugar maple trees, each tree being 30-40 years old. The sap gets boiled down over a long period of time to get to the maple syrup stage. Too little boiling means bacteria will grow in the syrup and ruin it. Boil it too long and it will crystallize in a bad way.
The 100%-pure maple syrup, now concentrated down to one gallon, must be intensely heated and subsequently cooled to get it ready for stirring until the candy crystallization starts. At that point, it is carefully hand-poured into molds. To give the candy a shelf life long enough for consumers to enjoy it, maple candy is often given a thin coating of crystalline sugar. The best maple candy is still made in New England.