To those who grew up tapping maple trees, the toothsome sap is more than the backbone for a flavorful syrup. Maple is as much an ingredient as a way of life, which goes a long way toward explaining its cultish following. Tonewood, a budding maple company that sources product from a number of family-owned operations in North America, is capitalizing on maple's applications beyond syrup—forming it into wafers, cubes, flakes, creams and seasoning. As Tonewood founder Dori Ross explains, "I want to promote the versatility of maple."
"It is the perfect natural sweetener," says Ross. "It is low on the Glycemic Index, high in minerals and antioxidants. It is also a low calorie sweetener and you only need a bit as it is sweeter than refined sugar." Tonewood's variation of form allows sap-crazed eaters to sprinkle maple on capuccinos, fresh fruit, salads and even meat.
Ditching the plastic jug common in maple production, Tonewood goes for a refined aesthetic more aligned with Italian olive oil. "Maple has an under-realized versatility and it's time that it was showcased in a modern way," says Ross. "The majority of maple in Vermont is sold in plastic jugs with farm scenes on jug. The beautiful color tones of the maple grades need to be seen."
Due in a large part to climate change and shorter winters, the maple industry has seen truncated harvest seasons and smaller yields in recent years. As supply drops, appreciation for the once-bountiful product rises. Commenting on the glory of maple, Ross says, "It is the only crop that you don't cut down, don't harvest, don't spray with pesticides or herbicides. Maple trees just keep on producing sap generation after generation."
Tonewood products are available at the company's online shop.
Images by James Thorne