Maple syrup is the result of long, hard work. It includes a process that takes a few days. I remember trudging through the snow in our backyard, the temperate forest of spruce, balsam fir, and maple trees in search of “the perfect” maple trees to tap for sap. Once my father and I discovered the maple trees we wanted to tap, we took out our hammer and hammered a silver coloured spigot into the side of a maple tree. Then we hung clean metal pails on the hook on the spighot to collect the sap. Usually the sap started “to run” in March.
The earliest known containers used for collecting maple sap was made from birchbark and sealed with pine resin. These containers were called mokuks. Indians families have tapped maple trees for many generations. They knew how to boil the sap down to syrup, until most of the moisture had evaporated. They created three types of sugar, a wax sugar, an extra-thick cake sugar, and finally a fine gain sugar. Eating maple sugar was an important part of their diet. Apparently different tribes used maple sap and sugar according to their culture.
There are 124 species of the maple tree genus. However, it is the sugar maple (Acer saccharum) that mostly used to produce commercial maple syrup. Maple syrup is basically produced in northeastern Canada and the United States. Quebec is a well-known Canadian province that produces maple syrup. “Sucre du Cabanne” or sugaring houses, often are destinations of families and school field trips to see how the sap is boiled down to a syrup. With lots of snow available, maple syrup is usually poured over the snow where it becomes a hard, delicious, taffy. States that produce maple syrup in the United States include: Connecticut; Main; Massachusetts; Michigan; New Hampshire; New York; Ohio; Pennsylvania; Vermont; and Wisconsin.
Just think, it takes 40 to 50 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup! AND, the sap “runs” for only about 8 to 10 weeks from February until April. Thus, you can make a sugaring off trip an annual Spring event!
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