Maple Cubes

maple cubes
This is just one of nature’s little oddities. At least to me it is.

Those cubes in the bottom of this small jar — doesn’t it look like they’re mostly melted ice cubes at the bottom of a glass? But they’re not. They’re cubes of maple sugar, left at the bottom of a jar that had some really delicious homemade maple syrup in it. I used all the syrup up, and these cubes are left.

I tried setting the jar in a shallow pan of water that had just boiled, thinking I could soften them up, the way I soften up hard honey. Nope. Doesn’t touch them. They remain solid, hard, and completely stuck to the bottom of the jar.

I tried putting the jar in my microwave for a few minutes, hoping the same thing.
maple jar
I should have been standing right by the nuker. In less than a minute and a half, it burned the sugar crystals and totally cracked the jar. Now my house smells like burnt sugar and I’ve wasted a perfectly good half-pint canning jar.

This isn’t the first time it’s happened to me, or I’d think it simply an anomaly. (Clarification: It isn’t the first time those crystals have formed and become one with the jar. It is the first time I tried the nuker thing. I wouldn’t be dumb enough to do that experiment twice!)

I remember back from my science classes that sugar forms crystals. I even have the experience of making rock candy from super-saturated simple syrup. But somehow this seems different to me. I can’t explain why, exactly. The shape of the crystals? Their insistence on being one with the jar?

So if you have a science background, or a maple sugaring background, I’d love to hear from you on why this happens and how I can make use of those yummy crystals in the future.

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