The boards in this category are made of maple wood. Maple trees are generalized under a common name, but include well over 100 individual species found in different parts of the world. The maple cutting boards on this website are made from North American soft maple (red maple or silver maple); but there exists a wide array of trees classified as under the species. For instance, the vastly different Japanese maple is used in bonsai (the Japanese art of miniaturizing plants), which illustrates well the variety within the genus.
The seeds grow in clustered pods and are very distinctive. Many people can remember playing with the helicopter shaped seeds as children by watching them spin in the air as they fall to the ground. The seeds first form as flowers, and can take a few weeks to a few months before maturing. Once mature, the hundreds of seedlings produced by each tree are released and carried by the wind.
Although not a popular practice, the seeds are edible, but have a bitter taste that should be dulled by boiling them.
The leaves of many types of trees change color in the fall, but maple trees are renowned for becoming an especially vivid red. Like all other plants, the leaves are kept green due to chlorophyll, a natural chemical present in each leaf used for photosynthesis (the process of converting sunlight into energy). Due to weather conditions in winter, this is temporarily impossible. Therefore the chlorophyll that is no longer required is released as the maple trees go dormant for a few months. During this transition period, the remaining components of the leaves have the chance to reveal their bright colors.
Not all maple trees produce maple syrup, and those that do have varying levels of production. The preferred species are of course sugar maple (also known as rock maple) and black maple. The red and silver maple trees used in these cutting boards can also produce syrup.
Maple syrup is produced by boiling the sap that is released in the spring. It is collected simply by drilling a hole and allowing the sap to drip in to a bucket. The result is very thin and looks like water, but has a sweet taste. 98% of the water needs to be boiled out in order to produce what is used for food.
As you can see a natural cutting board made from maple can not be compared to a plastic board made from crude oil. Every time you look at this lovely addition to your kitchen you can be happy to know it was made from a natural, renewable resource with food-safe qualities that can't be compared to plastic.