Maple syrup is a sweet brown liquid that is used by many people to cover their pancakes and waffles without ever a thought as to where the syrup actually comes from. Maple Syrup is made from the ‘xyelm’ sap of the any tree of the maple family, but primarily from the sugar maple tree since this tree often produces the best sap. Maple Syrup is a common crop in Canada and in some areas of the northern United States due to the abundance of maple groves.
Maple Syrup has been used as a sweet and energy rich food for thousands of years, starting with the Native Americans who learned to harvest and process the tasty treat and even have legends and festivals centered on its production. Europeans then came to North America and soon learned of the practice of making maple syrup and, finding the sweet condiment to their liking, began producing it for themselves. European technology worked out many kinks in the system that the Indians used for millennia and made it possible to produce maple syrup in larger quantities and with more efficiency. Today the Canadian province of Quebec is the largest producer of maple syrup on Earth, with the State of Vermont trailing behind into close second place.
The way that farmers make maple syrup using sugar maple trees starts with the tree itself. The Maple tree begins storing starch in the lower sections of the trunk and in the root sections of the tree. The starch is then converted into simpler sugars and rises with the sap as the sap rises throughout the tree in early spring. The sugar maple is tapped by the farmer who bores a hole into the trunk on a slight downward angle into which a stainless steel tap is inserted. The extra sap then drains out of the tree into buckets, which are hung from hooks made into the taps for this purpose, and is collected by the farmer. The sap, which is a thin clear liquid in its raw state, is then taken and boiled. As water evaporates from the sap, the sugar density rises and the liquid thickens and takes on its signature rich brown coloring. The sugar density is generally required to be at a level of around %66 percent sugar before it is considered to be maple syrup. Once it reaches that point the concentrated maple sap, which is now maple syrup is simply bottled and sold. On average for every 40 gallons of sap that is collected and boiled about 1 gallon of maple syrup is produced.
Sugar maple is most commonly used condiment for pancakes, waffles, french toast and other breakfast foods. It is also used for many other food items and is praised by culinary artists and chefs everywhere who prize this natural confection for its ability to enhance the appeal of a wide variety of dishes including breads, pies, and many types of meat dishes, this is quite an accomplishment for a little tree sap.