The maple syrup many of us eat with our pancakes isn’t really maple syrup but corn syrup with maple flavoring added. Real maple syrup is harvested from maple trees in early spring. The syrup is actually sap from maple trees. As temperatures begin to rise, the sap thins and can be collected from trees.
- Maple syrup can only be produced in late winter when the weather has just begun to warm but before maple trees bud or produce leaves. Native Americans called this time the “sugar moon.”
- Today, farmers use intricate systems of tubing and plastic containers to collect the sap. Previously, though, farmers would hammer small spigots into the maple trees and hang buckets beneath them. The sap would run into the buckets and the farmers would collect the sap.
- Once the sap is collected, it must be boiled to remove the excess water. Through this process, the sap becomes thicker and sweeter – syrup.
- It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. Although modern technology has simplified the process, it still takes a lot of time and work, which is why real maple syrup is more expensive.
- Not every maple tree produces maple syrup. Only certain varieties of maple are used for maple syrup. And only maple trees growing in regions with cold weather produce the sap used for maple syrup. Canada produces 71 percent of the world’s maple syrup supply. A few states in the U.S., including Vermont, New Hampshire, and Minnesota produce maple syrup.
- Maple syrup can be used for more than just pancakes! Add it to oatmeal or hot cocoa. Use it in baked goods as a substitute for sugar. Brush it on grilled meat for a sweet glaze.
- Maple syrup is graded according to its color. Grade A syrups are harvested early in the season. They have a mild flavor and a light color. Grade B maple syrup is harvested later in the season. It is darker in color and has a stronger maple flavor.
- Simplify: to make simpler
- Spigot: a faucet
- Sap: the liquid that runs through a tree
Questions and Answers
Question: Who discovered maple syrup?
Answer: Legend says that the wife of Iroquois Chief Woksis discovered it accidentally. Woksis pulled his hatchet out of a nearby maple to go on a hunting trip. Sap dripped from the wound in the tree, falling into a bucket or bowl sitting on the ground below. The woman, thinking the clear liquid was water, used it to cook the evening meal. The family was entranced by the sweet flavor.
Watch a video on identifying sugar maple trees.
Visit a maple tree farm in Vermont.