Maple syrup is produced only in the northeastern Unites States and adjoining Canadian provinces; Minnesota is the farthest state to the west in which maple syrup is produced. It is made by tapping maple trees in late winter, when days are above freezing (32°F) but nights drop below freezing.
To tap a tree, the syrup maker drills a small hole in the tree, then places a spile (a hollow tube, basically) into the hole. Sap, which looks like clear water, drips out and is collected. The syrup maker boils the sap down to concentrate the sugar. Pure sap has about 2%% sugar, which must be concentrated to 67%% sugar. Typically, 40 gallons of sap are required to produce one gallon of finished syrup.
Maple syrup was made by American Indians long before the coming of the white man. The natives traded their syrup, and maple sugar (produced by cooking the sap even longer, so the sugar is more concentrated and crystallizes), to European traders and trappers, receiving blankets, pots and other goods in exchange.
Pure maple syrup, made as described above, has no similarity to commercial "pancake syrup," which is composed primarily of caramelized high fructose corn syrup.
Maple syrup is a sweetener made from the sap of sugar maple or black maple trees.
Selecting and Buying
Preparation and Use
Maple syrup is most often eaten with waffles, pancakes, oatmeal, crumpets and French toast. It is sometimes used as an ingredient in baking, the making of candy, preparing desserts, or as a sugar source and flavoring agent in making beer. Sucrose is the most prevalent sugar in maple syrup. It was first collected and used by Native Americans and First Nations, and was later adopted by European settlers
Conserving and Storing
The boiling process was time consuming. The harvested sap was transported back to the party's base camp, where it was then poured into large, (almost always) metal vessels and boiled to achieve the desired consistency. The sap was usually processed at a central collection point, either over a fire built out in the open, or inside a shelter built for that purpose. To protect themselves from the weather conditions of the very early spring, sugaring parties built a small camp. Often, whole families moved into the woods together to collect and boil the sap producing both maple syrup and maple sugar.