The art of making maple syrup is passed down from generation to generation accompanied by family techniques, traditions, and tales. Regardless of the size of the operation, albeit traditional or commercial, everyone in the family lends a helping hand to bottle, sell & store their liquid gold.
The gathering of the syrup began with a traditional process of slashing notches in a tree and collecting the sap with a clay or hand sewn birch bark baskets. By the 16th Century, the first Europeans arrived and it is believed that the Native people taught the settlers how to make sugar from the trees. Maple syrup, also called maple sugar, became a staple to many families who could not afford to import expensive sugar from the West Indies.
Maple syrup is made from the xylem sap of a sugar maple (Acer saccharum), red maple (Acer rubrum) and black maple (Acer nigrum) trees. The sap is mostly water with a 2-3 percent sugar content that is condensed by boiling to concentrate the sugar content to more than 60 percent.
The largest producer in the United States is Vermont that proudly generates 5.5 percent of the global supply. The Canadian province of Quebec produces more than 80 percent of the world's maple syrup. Making them the largest global producer!
As I sit at the kitchen table, I ponder to myself the process to make maple syrup. The journey from tree to bottle and the welcome of each spring for the movement of the sap up and down the tree; I am thankful for the syrupy goodness that delights my sweet tooth and accompanies many of my favorite recipes.