The indigenous peoples of North America were tapping trees and producing the sweet treat long before Europeans arrived on the continent and adopted the practice themselves. There are many oral histories, or ancient stories, that reference the very special limited time of the year that maple syrup can be harvested. Some refer to it as the “sugaring off period”, the “maple moon”, or “sugar month”.
Quebec province is by far the world’s largest producer of maple syrup accounting for 77% of the world’s total production. But how does maple sap (or water) go from the tree to your breakfast table?
The sap season is short, lasting approximately six weeks, and the process of collection is painstaking. The season typically begins during the last week of February, when syrup producers drill holes in maple trees. Traditionally, a metal spigot is inserted into the tree with a collection bucket. This process is extremely labor intensive because each bucket must be collected every day, and transported to the sap house, and that takes a lot of man-power.
In the 1950s, some maple producers began to use a new method of collecting sap by attaching a plastic tube to each tree, which led to a central collection tank.
Once collected, the maple water is boiled to create a variety of maple products. Maple syrup, maple butter, and maple taffy are only a few of the tasty options, and I intend to try them all!