Maple syrup is a sweetener made from the sap of maple trees. In Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States it is most often eaten with waffles, pancakes, 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/First Nations and was later adopted by European settlers.
Traditionally, maple syrup was harvested by tapping a maple tree through the bark and into the wood, then letting the sap run into a bucket, which required daily collecting; less labour-intensive methods such as the use of continuous plastic pipelines have since superseded this, in all but cottage-scale production.
Production is concentrated in February, March, and April, depending on local weather conditions. Freezing nights and warm days are needed in order to induce sap flows. The change in temperature from above to below freezing causes water uptake from the soil, and temperatures above freezing cause a stem pressure to develop, which, along with gravity, causes sap to flow out of tap holes or other wounds in the stem or branches. To collect the sap, holes are bored into the maple trees and tubes (taps, spouts, spiles) are inserted. Sap flows through the spouts into buckets or into plastic tubing. Modern use of plastic tubing with a partial vacuum has enabled increased production. A hole must be drilled in a new location each year, as the old hole will produce sap for only one season due to the natural healing process of the tree, called walling-off. Maple sap is collected from the buckets and taken to the sugar house; if plastic tubing and pipelines are used, then the pipelines are arranged so that the sap will flow by gravity into the sugar house, or if that is not possible, into holding tanks from which the sap is pumped or transported by tanker truck to the sugar house.
It takes approximately 40 litres (10 gal) of sap to be boiled down to 1 litre (1 quart) of syrup. A mature sugar maple produces about 40 litres of sap during the 4-6 week sugaring season. Trees are not tapped until they have a diameter of 25 cm (10 in) at chest-height and the tree is at least 40 years old. If the tree is more than 45 cm it can be tapped twice on opposite sides. It is recommended that the drilled tap hole have a width of 8 mm (⅓ in) and a depth of 25 to 40 mm (1.0 to 1.6 in). During cooking, the sap is fed automatically by pipe from a storage tank to a long and narrow ridged pan called the evaporator. The evaporator is usually divided into two sections, the front pan and the back pan. As the sap boils, the water evaporates; it becomes denser and sweeter. As the density of the sap increases, it works its way from the rear of the back evaporator pan to the front evaporator pan. The syrup is boiled until it reaches the correct density of maple syrup, 1333 kg/m3. The proper density of at least 66% sugar is reached when the boiling sap reached a temperature of 7 degrees F. above the boiling point of water. The density is tested with a hydrometer. If the density is too low the syrup will not be sweet enough and the syrup will spoil. If the density is too high the syrup will crystallize in bottles. When the syrup has reached the proper density, it is drawn off, filtered and bottled while hot.
Join Maine's maple syrup producers each spring as they celebrate Maine Maple Syrup Sunday! It' s the day makers from around the state open the doors of thier sugarhouses for the public to join them in thier rites of spring-making maple syrup.Download the official Calendar of events - with locations from York County to Aroostook and in between. Activities, and plenty of Syrup!! Download pdf here also available on www.getrealmaine.com Go To The Map here