PERTH, Ont.—Thinking about making maple butter this summer? Crank the AC.
This was the advice from CDL expert Steve Skinner of CDL Lanark County and a sugarmaker from Perth, Ont. who led an online seminar on maple confections Thursday as part of the annual meeting of the Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association.
“Humidity can play all kinds of games with value added products,” Skinner said.
Skinner advised that sugarmakers should pay close attention to the humidity levels outside and maybe put off making maple butter—otherwise known as maple cream in the U.S.—until a nice dry day. Candy and taffy too.
The middle parts of both he U.S. and Canada have been experiencing heat waves and high humidity levels all summer.
He said it’s nearly impossible to make maple butter if the humidity levels are at 100 percent.
Skinner said making value added products like maple butter are worth the effort, with a sugarmaker able to make $130 gallon (Canadian) turning raw syrup into approximately 13 jars of maple butter. A gallon's worth of maple taffy can fetch $270, he said.
Meanwhile, Skinner offered other advice for would-be confection makers.
He said making maple butter is much more effective if year-old syrup is used in the process.
“Last year’s syrup works much better,” Skinner said.
“Something happens to syrup over the year that makes it much better for butter,” he said.
He also advised to use defoamer in the process, as sometimes syrup can erupt “like a volcano” when boiled upwards of 27 degrees over the boiling point of water, as in the case of candy making. And even higher temps for granulated sugar.
Critical to any confection-making is calculating the exact boiling point of water, which can change from day to day or hour to hour.
"You need to find what the boiling point is every time you make maple value added products," he said.
As for syrup choices, Skinner said early season light syrup is best for butter, and maple taffy and granulated sugar are best made from mid-season medium.
If using a gear-driving cream machine, Skinner said to keep some extra raw syrup on hand to clean out the residual at the end of a batch.
“Mix it in at the end so it doesn’t jam up the machine,” he said.
Skinner's complete presentation, as well as other presentations from maple experts, will be posted by the Ontario maple association on its website www.ontariomaple.com