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All across the northeast and upper midwest, folks have been yearning for warm days followed by cold nights to start the flow of sap in the sugar maple trees.  The finest syrup will be made from sap that flows during the coldest weather, and the sap will produce darker, more fully flavored syrup as the temperatures warm into spring.

Pancakes & Maple Syrup.

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Maple Syrup

While it is still possible to collect sap in a bucket from each individual tree, if your trees are on a hill you can use gravity and a vacuum pump to collect the spring sap for you.

Maple Syrup Lines, Wyebridge, Ontario

Large flat pans speed up the evaporation process. It takes about 50 gallons of maple sap to make a gallon of syrup. The sap is like water with a slightly sweet taste.  The first sap run will have a very delicate maple flavor, with later runs producing darker syrup with stronger maple flavor.

Maple Syrup thingy

There are government standards for density and sugar content.  Canadian syrups must contain nothing but 100 % maple sap. Quebec produces most of the syrup used today, but there are many family farms with sugar shacks all through the Great Lakes and New England regions. Each state will have it's own standards for syrup.

Almost Done Making Maple Syrup

If you love the maple to be strong in your syrup, choosing a darker grade will satisfy your desire!  For cooking with maple, you can get the great maple flavor without adding as much sweetness (from the sucrose in the syrup).

Grading Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup

In addition to the traditional pancakes and maple sugar candy, folks use maple syrup to make cooked desserts, maple snow cones and ice cream sundaes.

Maple Creme Brûlée

Maple syrup poured into ice/snow


It takes many at least 30-40 year old maple trees to produce the fifty gallons of sap, and lots of energy to boil it down into a syrup.  If trees are well treated, they can continue to produce for a hundred years.  The bigger trees may have several taps, but  in different locations from previous tapping. Farmers must slog through the chilly woods to tap the trees and collect the sap, then process it carefully to get a pure and quintessential North American favorite. Maple syrup season is a sweet transition from winter to spring, and it is finally here!

All about the sugar maple trees /Cornell University

Interactive map showing the range of the sugar maple tree.

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