Maple syrup
Overview
 
Maple syrup is a syrup
Syrup
In cooking, a syrup is a thick, viscous liquid consisting primarily of a solution of sugar in water, containing a large amount of dissolved sugars but showing little tendency to deposit crystals...

 usually made from the xylem
Xylem
Xylem is one of the two types of transport tissue in vascular plants. . The word xylem is derived from the Classical Greek word ξυλον , meaning "wood"; the best-known xylem tissue is wood, though it is found throughout the plant...

 sap
Sap
Sap may refer to:* Plant sap, the fluid transported in xylem cells or phloem sieve tube elements of a plant* Sap , a village in the Dunajská Streda District of Slovakia...

 of sugar maple
Sugar Maple
Acer saccharum is a species of maple native to the hardwood forests of northeastern North America, from Nova Scotia west to southern Ontario, and south to Georgia and Texas...

, red maple
Red Maple
Acer rubrum , is one of the most common and widespread deciduous trees of eastern North America. It ranges from the Lake of the Woods on the border between Ontario and Minnesota, east to Newfoundland, south to near Miami, Florida, and southwest to east Texas...

, or black maple
Black Maple
Acer nigrum is a species of maple closely related to A. saccharum , and treated as a subspecies of it by some authors, as Acer saccharum subsp. nigrum....

 trees, although it can also be made from other maple
Maple
Acer is a genus of trees or shrubs commonly known as maple.Maples are variously classified in a family of their own, the Aceraceae, or together with the Hippocastanaceae included in the family Sapindaceae. Modern classifications, including the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group system, favour inclusion in...

 species such as the bigleaf maple
Bigleaf Maple
Acer macrophyllum is a large deciduous tree in the genus Acer.It can grow to be up to 35 m tall, but more commonly grows 15 m to 20 m tall. It is native to western North America, mostly near the Pacific coast, from southernmost Alaska to southern California...

. In cold climates, these trees store starch in their trunks and roots before the winter; the starch is then converted to sugar that rises in the sap in the spring. Maple trees can be tapped by boring holes into their trunks and collecting the exuded sap.
Encyclopedia
Maple syrup is a syrup
Syrup
In cooking, a syrup is a thick, viscous liquid consisting primarily of a solution of sugar in water, containing a large amount of dissolved sugars but showing little tendency to deposit crystals...

 usually made from the xylem
Xylem
Xylem is one of the two types of transport tissue in vascular plants. . The word xylem is derived from the Classical Greek word ξυλον , meaning "wood"; the best-known xylem tissue is wood, though it is found throughout the plant...

 sap
Sap
Sap may refer to:* Plant sap, the fluid transported in xylem cells or phloem sieve tube elements of a plant* Sap , a village in the Dunajská Streda District of Slovakia...

 of sugar maple
Sugar Maple
Acer saccharum is a species of maple native to the hardwood forests of northeastern North America, from Nova Scotia west to southern Ontario, and south to Georgia and Texas...

, red maple
Red Maple
Acer rubrum , is one of the most common and widespread deciduous trees of eastern North America. It ranges from the Lake of the Woods on the border between Ontario and Minnesota, east to Newfoundland, south to near Miami, Florida, and southwest to east Texas...

, or black maple
Black Maple
Acer nigrum is a species of maple closely related to A. saccharum , and treated as a subspecies of it by some authors, as Acer saccharum subsp. nigrum....

 trees, although it can also be made from other maple
Maple
Acer is a genus of trees or shrubs commonly known as maple.Maples are variously classified in a family of their own, the Aceraceae, or together with the Hippocastanaceae included in the family Sapindaceae. Modern classifications, including the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group system, favour inclusion in...

 species such as the bigleaf maple
Bigleaf Maple
Acer macrophyllum is a large deciduous tree in the genus Acer.It can grow to be up to 35 m tall, but more commonly grows 15 m to 20 m tall. It is native to western North America, mostly near the Pacific coast, from southernmost Alaska to southern California...

. In cold climates, these trees store starch in their trunks and roots before the winter; the starch is then converted to sugar that rises in the sap in the spring. Maple trees can be tapped by boring holes into their trunks and collecting the exuded sap. The sap is processed by heating to evaporate some of the water, leaving the concentrated syrup.

Maple syrup was first collected and used by indigenous people of North America. The practice was adopted by European settlers, who gradually improved production methods. Technological improvements in the 1970s further refined syrup processing. Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 is by far the largest producer, making about three-quarters of the world's output; Canada exports more than C$145 million (approximately $141 million in US dollars) worth of maple syrup a year. Vermont
Vermont
Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 43rd in land area, , and 45th in total area. Its population according to the 2010 census, 630,337, is the second smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming. It is the only New England...

 is the largest producer in the United States, and generates about 5.5 percent of the global supply.

The syrup is graded according to the Canada, United States, or Vermont scales based on its density and translucency. Sucrose
Sucrose
Sucrose is the organic compound commonly known as table sugar and sometimes called saccharose. A white, odorless, crystalline powder with a sweet taste, it is best known for its role in human nutrition. The molecule is a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose with the molecular formula...

 is the most prevalent sugar in maple syrup. Syrups must be at least 66 percent sugar to qualify as maple syrup in Canada. In the US, a syrup must be made almost entirely from maple sap to be labeled as "maple". Maple syrup is often eaten with waffle
Waffle
A waffle is a batter- or dough-based cake cooked in a waffle iron patterned to give a distinctive and characteristic shape. There are many variations based on the type and shape of the iron and the recipe used....

s, pancake
Pancake
A pancake is a thin, flat, round cake prepared from a batter, and cooked on a hot griddle or frying pan. Most pancakes are quick breads; some use a yeast-raised or fermented batter. Most pancakes are cooked one side on a griddle and flipped partway through to cook the other side...

s, oatmeal
Oatmeal
Oatmeal is ground oat groats , or a porridge made from oats . Oatmeal can also be ground oat, steel-cut oats, crushed oats, or rolled oats....

 (porridge
Porridge
Porridge is a dish made by boiling oats or other cereal meals in water, milk, or both. It is usually served hot in a bowl or dish...

), and French toast
French toast
French toast or Eggy Bread, is a food made with bread and eggs. It is a Christmas time dessert in Portugal and Brazil.Where French toast is served as a sweet dish, milk, sugar, or cinnamon are also commonly added before frying, and it may be then topped with sugar, butter, fruit, syrup, or other...

. It is also used as an ingredient in baking
Baking
Baking is the technique of prolonged cooking of food by dry heat acting by convection, and not by radiation, normally in an oven, but also in hot ashes, or on hot stones. It is primarily used for the preparation of bread, cakes, pastries and pies, tarts, quiches, cookies and crackers. Such items...

, and as a sweetener
Sugar substitute
A sugar substitute is a food additive that duplicates the effect of sugar in taste, usually with less food energy. Some sugar substitutes are natural and some are synthetic. Those that are not natural are, in general, called artificial sweeteners....

 and flavouring agent. Culinary experts have praised its unique flavour, though the chemistry responsible is not fully understood. Maple syrup and the sugar maple tree are symbols of Canada and several US states, in particular Vermont.

Native Americans

Aboriginal peoples living in the northeastern part of North America were the first groups known to have produced maple syrup and maple sugar. According to their oral traditions, as well as archaeological evidence, maple tree sap, which they called "sweet water" or Sinzibuckwud (Algonquin, literally "drawn from trees"), was being processed for its sugar content long before Europeans arrived in the region. There are no authenticated accounts of how maple syrup production and consumption began, but various legends exist; one of the most popular involves maple sap being used in place of water to cook venison
Venison
Venison is the meat of a game animal, especially a deer but also other animals such as antelope, wild boar, etc.-Etymology:The word derives from the Latin vēnor...

 served to a chief. Other stories credit the development of maple syrup production to Nanabush, Glooskap, or the squirrel
Squirrel
Squirrels belong to a large family of small or medium-sized rodents called the Sciuridae. The family includes tree squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, marmots , flying squirrels, and prairie dogs. Squirrels are indigenous to the Americas, Eurasia, and Africa and have been introduced to Australia...

. Aboriginal tribes developed rituals around sugar-making, celebrating the Sugar Moon (the first full moon of spring) with a Maple Dance. Many aboriginal dishes replaced the salt traditional in European cuisine with maple sugar or syrup.

The Algonquins recognized maple sap as a source of energy and nutrition. At the beginning of the spring thaw, they used stone tool
Stone tool
A stone tool is, in the most general sense, any tool made either partially or entirely out of stone. Although stone tool-dependent societies and cultures still exist today, most stone tools are associated with prehistoric, particularly Stone Age cultures that have become extinct...

s to make V-shaped incisions in tree trunks; they then inserted reeds or concave pieces of bark to run the sap into buckets, which were often made from birch bark. The maple sap was concentrated either by dropping hot cooking stones into the buckets or by leaving them exposed to the cold temperatures overnight and disposing of the layer of ice that formed on top. Production of maple syrup is one of only a few agricultural processes in North America that is not a European colonial import.

Europeans

In the early stages of European colonization in northeastern North America, native peoples showed the arriving colonists how to tap the trunks of certain types of maples during the spring thaw to harvest the sap. André Thevet
André Thévet
André de Thevet was a French Franciscan priest, explorer, cosmographer and writer who travelled to Brazil in the 16th century...

, the "Royal Cosmographer of France", wrote about Jacques Cartier
Jacques Cartier
Jacques Cartier was a French explorer of Breton origin who claimed what is now Canada for France. He was the first European to describe and map the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the shores of the Saint Lawrence River, which he named "The Country of Canadas", after the Iroquois names for the two big...

 drinking maple sap during his Canadian voyages. By 1680, European settlers and fur trade
Fur trade
The fur trade is a worldwide industry dealing in the acquisition and sale of animal fur. Since the establishment of world market for in the early modern period furs of boreal, polar and cold temperate mammalian animals have been the most valued...

rs were involved in harvesting maple products. However, rather than making incisions in the bark as the natives did, the Europeans opted to use the less destructive method of drilling tapholes in the trunks with augers. During the 17th and 18th centuries, processed maple sap was used primarily as a source of concentrated sugar, in both liquid and crystallized-solid form, as cane sugar had to be imported from the West Indies.

Maple sugaring parties typically began to operate at the start of the spring thaw in regions of woodland with sufficiently large numbers of maples. Syrup makers first bored holes in the trunks, usually more than one hole per large tree; they then inserted wooden spouts into the holes and hung a wooden bucket from the protruding end of each spout to collect the sap. The buckets were commonly made by cutting cylindrical segments from a large tree trunk and then hollowing out each segment's core from one end of the cylinder, creating a seamless, watertight container. Sap filled the buckets, and was then either transferred to larger holding vessels (barrels, large pots, or hollowed-out wooden logs), often mounted on sledges or wagons pulled by draft animals, or carried in buckets or other convenient containers. The sap-collection buckets were returned to the spouts mounted on the trees, and the process was repeated for as long as the flow of sap remained "sweet". The specific weather conditions of the thaw period were, and still are, critical in determining the length of the sugaring season. As the weather continues to warm, a maple tree's normal early spring biological process eventually alters the taste of the sap, making it unpalatable, perhaps due to an increase in amino acids.

The boiling process was time-consuming. The harvested sap was transported back to the party's base camp, where it was then poured into large, usually metal vessels and boiled to achieve the desired consistency. The sap was usually transported using large barrels pulled by horses or oxen to a central collection point, where it was processed either over a fire built out in the open or inside a shelter built for that purpose (the "sugar shack").

Modern era

Around the time of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, syrup makers started using large, flat, sheet metal pans as they were more efficient for boiling than heavy, rounded iron kettles, because of a greater surface area for evaporation. Around this time, cane sugar replaced maple sugar as the dominant sweetener in the US; as a result, producers focused marketing efforts on maple syrup. The first evaporator, used to heat and concentrate sap, was patented in 1858. In 1872, an evaporator was developed that featured two pans and a metal arch or firebox, which greatly decreased boiling time. Around 1900, producers bent the tin that formed the bottom of a pan into a series of flue
Flue
A flue is a duct, pipe, or chimney for conveying exhaust gases from a fireplace, furnace, water heater, boiler, or generator to the outdoors. In the United States, they are also known as vents and for boilers as breeching for water heaters and modern furnaces...

s, which increased the heated surface area of the pan and again decreased boiling time. Some producers also added a finishing pan, a separate batch evaporator, as a final stage in the evaporation process.

Buckets began to be replaced with plastic bags, which allowed people to see at a distance how much sap had been collected. Syrup producers also began using tractors to haul vats of sap from the trees being tapped (the sugarbush) to the evaporator. Some producers adopted motor-powered tappers and metal tubing systems to convey sap from the tree to a central collection container, but these techniques were not widely used. Heating methods also diversified: modern producers use wood, oil, natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

, propane
Propane
Propane is a three-carbon alkane with the molecular formula , normally a gas, but compressible to a transportable liquid. A by-product of natural gas processing and petroleum refining, it is commonly used as a fuel for engines, oxy-gas torches, barbecues, portable stoves, and residential central...

, or steam to evaporate sap. Modern filtration methods were perfected to prevent contamination of the syrup.

A large number of technological changes took place during the 1970s. Plastic tubing systems that had been experimental since the early part of the century were perfected, and the sap came directly from the tree to the evaporator house. Vacuum pump
Vacuum pump
A vacuum pump is a device that removes gas molecules from a sealed volume in order to leave behind a partial vacuum. The first vacuum pump was invented in 1650 by Otto von Guericke.- Types :Pumps can be broadly categorized according to three techniques:...

s were added to the tubing systems, and preheaters were developed to recycle heat lost in the steam. Producers created reverse-osmosis machines to take a portion of water out of the sap before it was boiled, increasing processing efficiency.

Improvements in tubing and vacuum pumps, new filtering techniques, "supercharged" preheaters, and better storage containers have since been developed. Research continues on pest control and improved woodlot management. In 2009, researchers at the University of Vermont
University of Vermont
The University of Vermont comprises seven undergraduate schools, an honors college, a graduate college, and a college of medicine. The Honors College does not offer its own degrees; students in the Honors College concurrently enroll in one of the university's seven undergraduate colleges or...

 unveiled a new type of tap that prevents backflow of sap into the tree, reducing bacteria
Bacteria
Bacteria are a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals...

l contamination and preventing the tree from attempting to heal the bore hole.

Processing

Production methods have been streamlined since colonial days, yet remain basically the same. Sap must first be collected and boiled down to obtain pure syrup without chemical agents or preservatives. Maple syrup is made by boiling between 20 and 50 l (5.3 and 13.2 USgal) of sap (depending on its concentration) over an open fire until 1 litre (0.264172037284185 US gal) of syrup is obtained, usually at a temperature 4.1 °C-change over the boiling point of water. Syrup can be boiled entirely over one heat source or can be drawn off into smaller batches and boiled at a more controlled temperature.

The finished syrup has a density
Density
The mass density or density of a material is defined as its mass per unit volume. The symbol most often used for density is ρ . In some cases , density is also defined as its weight per unit volume; although, this quantity is more properly called specific weight...

 of 66° or greater on the Brix scale (a hydrometric
Hydrometer
A hydrometer is an instrument used to measure the specific gravity of liquids; that is, the ratio of the density of the liquid to the density of water....

 scale used to measure sugar solutions). The syrup is then filtered to remove sugar sand
Sugar sand
Sugar sand, found in some areas of the Eastern United States, is a fine silt made up of ultrafine mineral sand mixed with a large percentage of organic granules. Because of its lightness it can easily form quicksand in hollows. In New Jersey, quicksand is often referred to as "sugar sand." Even...

, crystals made up largely of sugar and calcium malate
Calcium malate
Calcium malate is a compound with formula Ca. It is the calcium salt of malic acid. As a food additive, it has the E number E352.It is related to, but different from, calcium citrate malate....

. These crystals are not toxic, but create a "gritty" texture in the syrup if not filtered out. The filtered syrup is graded and packaged while still hot, usually at a temperature of 82 °C (179.6 °F) or greater. The containers are turned over after being sealed to sterilize the cap with the hot syrup. Packages can be made of metal, glass, or coated plastic, depending on volume and target market. The syrup can also be heated and further processed to create a variety of maple products: maple sugar
Maple sugar
Maple sugar is a traditional sweetener in the northeastern United States and Canada, prepared from the sap of the sugar maple tree.-Preparation:...

, cream, butter, candy or taffy
Taffy (candy)
Taffy is a type of chewy candy, similar to toffee. Taffy is often sold alongside bubblegum and candy. Taffy is made by stretching or pulling a sticky mass of boiled sugar, butter or vegetable oil, flavorings, and coloring until fluffy. When this process is complete, the taffy is rolled, cut into...

.

Off-flavours

Off-flavours can sometimes develop during the production of maple syrup; causes include contaminants in the boiling apparatus, such as paint or cleanser; changes in the sap, such as fermentation
Fermentation (food)
Fermentation in food processing typically is the conversion of carbohydrates to alcohols and carbon dioxide or organic acids using yeasts, bacteria, or a combination thereof, under anaerobic conditions. Fermentation in simple terms is the chemical conversion of sugars into ethanol...

 when it has been left sitting too long; and changes in the tree, such as "buddy sap" late in the season when budding has begun. In some circumstances it is possible to remove off-flavours through processing.

Production

Maple syrup production is centred in northeastern North America; however, given the correct weather conditions, it can be made wherever maple trees grow. The maple species predominantly used are the sugar maple (Acer saccharum), the red maple (A. rubrum), and the black maple (A. nigrum) because of the high sugar content in the sap – roughly two to five percent. Red maple has a shorter season because it buds earlier than sugar and black maples, altering the flavour of the sap. Silver maples and other maple species are occasionally also tapped. A maple syrup production farm is called a "sugarbush
Sugar bush
Sugar bush refers to a forest stand which is exploited for maple syrup. The tree canopy is dominated by sugar maple or black maple. Other tree species, if present, form only a small fraction of the total tree cover...

" or "sugarwood". Sap is often boiled in a "sugar house
Sugar house
A sugar house, also known as sap house, sugar shack, sugar shanty or sugar cabin is a semi-commercial establishment, prominent mainly in Eastern Canada...

" (also known as a "sugar shack," "sugar shanty," or cabane à sucre), a building louver
Louver
A louver or louvre , from the French l'ouvert; "the open one") is a window, blind or shutter with horizontal slats that are angled to admit light and air, but to keep out rain, direct sunshine, and noise...

ed at the top to vent the steam from the boiling sap.

Maples are usually tapped beginning at 30 to 40 years of age. Each tree can support between one and three taps, depending on its trunk diameter. The average maple tree will produce 35 to 50 l (9.2 to 13.2 USgal) of sap per season, up to 12 litres (3.2 US gal) per day. This is roughly equal to 7% of its total sap. Seasons last for four to eight weeks, depending on the weather. During the day, starch stored in the roots for the winter rises through the trunk as sugary sap, allowing it to be tapped. Sap is not tapped at night because the temperature drop inhibits sap flow, although taps are typically left in place overnight. Some producers also tap in autumn, though this practice is less common than spring tapping. Maples can continue to be tapped for sap until they are over 100 years old.

Commerce

Canada makes more than 80 percent of the world's maple syrup, producing about 26500000 litres (7,000,559 US gal) in 2004. The vast majority of this comes from Quebec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

: the province is the world's largest producer, with about 75% of global production totalling 24660000 litres (6,514,482.4 US gal) in 2005. As of 2003, Quebec had more than 7,000 producers, collectively making over 24000000 litres (6,340,128.9 US gal) of syrup. Production in Quebec is controlled through a supply management
Supply management
The term supply management describes the methods and processes of modern corporate or institutional buying. This may be for the purchasing of supplies for internal use referred to as indirect goods and services, purchasing raw materials for the consumption during the manufacturing process, or for...

 system, with producers receiving quota allotments from the Fédération des producteurs acéricoles du Québec, which also maintains reserves of syrup. Canada exports more than 9400000 litres (2,483,217.2 US gal) of maple syrup per year, valued at over C$145 million.

The provinces of Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

, New Brunswick
New Brunswick
New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the only province in the federation that is constitutionally bilingual . The provincial capital is Fredericton and Saint John is the most populous city. Greater Moncton is the largest Census Metropolitan Area...

, and Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island is a Canadian province consisting of an island of the same name, as well as other islands. The maritime province is the smallest in the nation in both land area and population...

 produce smaller amounts of syrup. The provinces of Manitoba
Manitoba
Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of . The province has over 110,000 lakes and has a largely continental climate because of its flat topography. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other...

 and Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan is a prairie province in Canada, which has an area of . Saskatchewan is bordered on the west by Alberta, on the north by the Northwest Territories, on the east by Manitoba, and on the south by the U.S. states of Montana and North Dakota....

 produce maple syrup using the sap of the Manitoba maple tree (Acer negundo
Acer negundo
Acer negundo is a species of maple native to North America. Box Elder, Boxelder Maple, and Maple Ash are its most common names in the United States...

, box-elder). Manitoba maple syrup has a slightly different flavour from sugar-maple syrup, because it contains less sugar and the sap flows more slowly. The Manitoba maple tree's yield is usually less than half that of a similar sugar maple tree.

Vermont is the biggest US producer, with over 1140000 gallons (4,315,369.7 l) during the 2011 season, followed by New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 with 564000 gallons (2,134,972.4 l) and Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

 with 360000 gallons (1,362,748.3 l). Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

, Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

, Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

, and Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

 all produced marketable quantities of maple syrup of less than 120000 gallons (454,249.4 l) each in 2011. As of 2003, Vermont produced about 5.5% of the global syrup supply.

Maple syrup has been produced on a small scale in some other countries, notably Japan and South Korea. However, in South Korea in particular, it is traditional to consume maple sap, called gorosoe, instead of processing it into syrup. Japan is a large importer of maple syrup: in 2010, 10.1% of Canada's maple syrup exports (a value of C$28 million) went to Japan.

Grades

In Canada, maple syrup is classified as one of three grades, each with several colour classes. These include Canada #1, including Extra Light (sometimes known as AA), Light (A), and Medium (B); #2 Amber (C); and finally #3 Dark (D). In addition, Canada #2 Amber may be labelled "Ontario Amber" when produced and sold in that province only. A typical year's yield for a maple syrup producer will be about 25 to 30% of each of the #1 colours, 10% #2 Amber, and 2% #3 Dark.

The United States uses different grading standards. Maple syrup is divided into two major grades: Grade A and Grade B. Grade A is further divided into three subgrades: Light Amber (sometimes known as Fancy), Medium Amber, and Dark Amber. The Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets
Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets or sometimes colloquially the agriculture department, is a Vermont executive agency . Its purpose is to develop and execute policy on farming, agriculture, food, and promoting and protecting the Vermont brand as related to food in the worldwide...

 uses a similar grading system of colour, and is roughly equivalent, especially for lighter syrups. The Vermont grading system differs from the US system in maintaining a slightly higher standard of product density (measured on the Baumé scale
Baumé scale
The Baumé scale is a pair of hydrometer scales developed by French pharmacist Antoine Baumé in 1768 to measure density of various liquids. The unit of the Baumé scale has been notated variously as degrees Baumé, B°, Bé° and simply Baumé . One scale measures the density of liquids heavier than water...

). New Hampshire maintains a similar standard, but not a separate state grading scale. The Vermont-graded product has 0.9% more sugar and less water in its composition than US-graded. A grade of syrup not for table use, called commercial or Grade C, is also produced under the Vermont system. Vermont inspectors enforce strict syrup grading regulations, and can fine producers up to US$1000 for labelling syrup incorrectly.

Extra Light and Grade A typically have a milder flavour than Grade B, which is very dark, with a rich maple flavour. The dark grades of syrup are used primarily for cooking and baking, although some specialty dark syrups are produced for table use. The classification of maple syrup in the US depends ultimately on its translucence. US Grade A Light Amber has to be more than 75% translucent, US Grade A Medium Amber has to be 60.5 to 74.9% translucent, US Grade A Dark Amber has to be 44.0 to 60.4% translucent, and US Grade B is any product less than 44.0% translucent.

Food and nutrition

The basic ingredient in maple syrup is the sap from the xylem
Xylem
Xylem is one of the two types of transport tissue in vascular plants. . The word xylem is derived from the Classical Greek word ξυλον , meaning "wood"; the best-known xylem tissue is wood, though it is found throughout the plant...

 of maple trees. It consists primarily of sucrose
Sucrose
Sucrose is the organic compound commonly known as table sugar and sometimes called saccharose. A white, odorless, crystalline powder with a sweet taste, it is best known for its role in human nutrition. The molecule is a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose with the molecular formula...

 and water, with small amounts of other sugars such as fructose
Fructose
Fructose, or fruit sugar, is a simple monosaccharide found in many plants. It is one of the three dietary monosaccharides, along with glucose and galactose, that are absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion. Fructose was discovered by French chemist Augustin-Pierre Dubrunfaut in 1847...

 and glucose
Glucose
Glucose is a simple sugar and an important carbohydrate in biology. Cells use it as the primary source of energy and a metabolic intermediate...

. Organic acids, the most notable one being malic acid
Malic acid
Malic acid is an organic compound with the formula HO2CCH2CHOHCO2H. It is a dicarboxylic acid which is made by all living organisms, contributes to the pleasantly sour taste of fruits, and is used as a food additive. Malic acid has two stereoisomeric forms , though only the L-isomer exists...

, make the syrup slightly acidic. Maple syrup has a relatively low mineral content which consists largely of potassium
Potassium
Potassium is the chemical element with the symbol K and atomic number 19. Elemental potassium is a soft silvery-white alkali metal that oxidizes rapidly in air and is very reactive with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite the hydrogen emitted in the reaction.Potassium and sodium are...

 and calcium
Calcium
Calcium is the chemical element with the symbol Ca and atomic number 20. It has an atomic mass of 40.078 amu. Calcium is a soft gray alkaline earth metal, and is the fifth-most-abundant element by mass in the Earth's crust...

, but maple syrup also contains nutritionally significant amounts of zinc
Zinc
Zinc , or spelter , is a metallic chemical element; it has the symbol Zn and atomic number 30. It is the first element in group 12 of the periodic table. Zinc is, in some respects, chemically similar to magnesium, because its ion is of similar size and its only common oxidation state is +2...

 and manganese
Manganese
Manganese is a chemical element, designated by the symbol Mn. It has the atomic number 25. It is found as a free element in nature , and in many minerals...

. Maple syrup contains trace amounts of amino acids, which may contribute to the "buddy" flavour of syrup produced late in the season, as the amino acid content of sap increases at this time. Additionally, maple syrup contains a wide variety of volatile organic compounds, including vanillin
Vanillin
Vanillin is a phenolic aldehyde, an organic compound with the molecular formula C8H8O3. Its functional groups include aldehyde, ether, and phenol. It is the primary component of the extract of the vanilla bean. It is also found in Leptotes bicolor, roasted coffee and the Chinese red pine...

, hydroxybutanone, and propionaldehyde
Propionaldehyde
Propionaldehyde or propanal is the organic compound with the formula CH3CH2CHO. It is a saturated 3-carbon aldehyde and is a structural isomer of acetone...

. It is not yet known exactly which compounds are primarily responsible for maple syrup's flavour.

Maple syrup is similar to sugar with respect to calorie content, but is a source of manganese, with 13 grams containing about 0.44 milligrams or 22 percent of the US Food and Drug Administration
Food and Drug Administration
The Food and Drug Administration is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, one of the United States federal executive departments...

 Daily Value
Reference Daily Intake
The Reference Daily Intake or Recommended Daily Intake is the daily intake level of a nutrient that is considered to be sufficient to meet the requirements of 97–98% of healthy individuals in every demographic in the United States .The RDI is used to determine the Daily Value of foods,...

 (DV%) of 2 milligrams. It is also a source of zinc
Zinc
Zinc , or spelter , is a metallic chemical element; it has the symbol Zn and atomic number 30. It is the first element in group 12 of the periodic table. Zinc is, in some respects, chemically similar to magnesium, because its ion is of similar size and its only common oxidation state is +2...

 with 13 grams containing 0.55 milligrams or 3.7 percent of the DV% of 15 milligrams. Compared to honey
Honey
Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans...

, maple syrup has 15 times more calcium and 1/10 as much sodium.

Scientists have found that maple syrup's natural phenols – the beneficial antioxidant
Antioxidant
An antioxidant is a molecule capable of inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that transfers electrons or hydrogen from a substance to an oxidizing agent. Oxidation reactions can produce free radicals. In turn, these radicals can start chain reactions. When...

 compounds – inhibit two carbohydrate-hydrolyzing enzymes that are relevant to type 2 diabetes. In the study, 34 new beneficial compounds in pure maple syrup were discovered, five of which have never been seen in nature. Among the five new compounds discovered is quebecol
Quebecol
Quebecol is a phenolic chemical compound that has been isolated from Canadian maple syrup. It has the chemical formula C24H26O7 and the systematic name 2,3,3-tri--1-propanol. Analysis of maple sap before it is converted into syrup suggests that this compound is not naturally present in the sap...

, a compound created when the maple sap is boiled to create syrup.

British culinary expert Delia Smith
Delia Smith
Delia Smith CBE is an English cook and television presenter, known for teaching basic cookery skills. She is the UK's best-selling cookery author, with more than 21 million copies sold....

 described maple syrup as "a unique ingredient, smooth- and silky-textured, with a sweet, distinctive flavour – hints of caramel with overtones of toffee will not do – and a rare colour, amber set alight. Maple flavour is, well, maple flavour, uniquely different from any other." Agriculture Canada has developed a "flavour wheel" that details 91 unique flavours that can be present in maple syrup. These flavours are divided into 13 families: vanilla, empyreumatic (burnt), milky, fruity, floral, spicy, foreign deterioration or environment, maple, confectionery, and plants forest-humus-cereals, herbaceous or ligneous. These flavours are evaluated using a procedure similar to wine tasting
Wine tasting
Wine tasting is the sensory examination and evaluation of wine. While the practice of wine tasting is as ancient as its production, a more formalized methodology has slowly become established from the 14th century onwards...

.

Maple syrup and its artificial imitations are used as toppings for pancake
Pancake
A pancake is a thin, flat, round cake prepared from a batter, and cooked on a hot griddle or frying pan. Most pancakes are quick breads; some use a yeast-raised or fermented batter. Most pancakes are cooked one side on a griddle and flipped partway through to cook the other side...

s, waffle
Waffle
A waffle is a batter- or dough-based cake cooked in a waffle iron patterned to give a distinctive and characteristic shape. There are many variations based on the type and shape of the iron and the recipe used....

s, and French toast
French toast
French toast or Eggy Bread, is a food made with bread and eggs. It is a Christmas time dessert in Portugal and Brazil.Where French toast is served as a sweet dish, milk, sugar, or cinnamon are also commonly added before frying, and it may be then topped with sugar, butter, fruit, syrup, or other...

 in North America. They can also be used to flavour a variety of foods, including fritter
Fritter
A fritter is any kind of food coated in batter and deep fried. Although very similar to a doughnut it differs in the fact that it requires some base ingredient beyond the dough it is cooked with.-Anglo-American fritters:...

s, ice cream
Ice cream
Ice cream is a frozen dessert usually made from dairy products, such as milk and cream, and often combined with fruits or other ingredients and flavours. Most varieties contain sugar, although some are made with other sweeteners...

, hot cereal
Porridge
Porridge is a dish made by boiling oats or other cereal meals in water, milk, or both. It is usually served hot in a bowl or dish...

, and fresh fruit
Fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

. It is also used as sweetener for granola
Granola
Granola is a breakfast food and snack food, popular in North America, consisting of rolled oats, nuts, honey, and sometimes rice, that is usually baked until crisp. During the baking process the mixture is stirred to maintain a loose, breakfast cereal-type consistency...

, applesauce
Applesauce
Apple sauce or applesauce is a purée made of apples. It can be made with peeled or unpeeled apples and a variety of spices . Fruit flavorings or sweeteners such as sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, or sucralose are also commonly added...

, baked beans
Baked beans
Baked beans is a dish containing beans, sometimes baked but, despite the name, usually stewed, in a sauce. Most commercial canned baked beans are made from haricot beans, also known as navy beans – a variety of Phaseolus vulgaris – in a sauce. In Ireland and the United Kingdom, a tomato...

, candied sweet potato
Sweet potato
The sweet potato is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the family Convolvulaceae. Its large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are an important root vegetable. The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. Of the approximately 50 genera and more than 1,000 species of...

es, winter squash
Squash (fruit)
Squashes generally refer to four species of the genus Cucurbita, also called marrows depending on variety or the nationality of the speaker...

, cakes, pies, breads, tea, coffee, and hot toddies
Hot toddy
A hot toddy is a mixed drink, usually including alcohol, that is served hot. Hot toddies are traditionally drunk before going to bed, or in wet or cold weather...

. Maple syrup can also be used as a replacement for honey in wine (mead
Mead
Mead , also called honey wine, is an alcoholic beverage that is produced by fermenting a solution of honey and water. It may also be produced by fermenting a solution of water and honey with grain mash, which is strained immediately after fermentation...

).

Imitation syrups

In the United States, "maple syrup" must be made almost entirely from maple sap; small amounts of substances such as salt may be added. "Maple-flavoured" syrups may contain additional ingredients. "Pancake syrup", "waffle syrup", "table syrup", and similarly named syrups are substitutes, which are less expensive than maple syrup. In these syrups, the primary ingredient is most often high fructose corn syrup
High fructose corn syrup
High-fructose corn syrup  — also called glucose-fructose syrup in the UK, glucose/fructose in Canada, and high-fructose maize syrup in other countries — comprises any of a group of corn syrups that has undergone enzymatic processing to convert some of its glucose into fructose to produce...

 flavoured with sotolon
Sotolon
Sotolon is a lactone and an extremely powerful aroma compound, with the typical smell of fenugreek or curry at high concentrations and maple syrup, caramel, or burnt sugar at lower concentrations. Sotolon is the major aroma and flavor component of fenugreek seed and lovage, and is one of several...

; they have no genuine maple content, and are usually thickened far beyond the viscosity
Viscosity
Viscosity is a measure of the resistance of a fluid which is being deformed by either shear or tensile stress. In everyday terms , viscosity is "thickness" or "internal friction". Thus, water is "thin", having a lower viscosity, while honey is "thick", having a higher viscosity...

 of maple syrup. The fenugreek
Fenugreek
Fenugreek is a plant in the family Fabaceae. Fenugreek is used both as a herb and as a spice . The leaves and sprouts are also eaten as vegetables...

 seed, a spice with high amounts of sotolon, can be prepared to have a maple-like flavour, and is used to make a very strong commercial flavouring that is similar to maple syrup, but much less expensive.

American labelling laws prohibit imitation syrups from having "maple" in their names. In Canada, syrup must have a density of 66° on the Brix
Brix
Degrees Brix is the sugar content of an aqueous solution.One degree Brix is 1 gram of sucrose in 100 grams of solution and represents the strength of the solution as percentage by weight . If the solution contains dissolved solids other than pure sucrose, then the °Bx is only approximate the...

 scale to be marketed as maple syrup. Québécois sometimes refer to imitation maple syrup as sirop de poteau ("pole syrup"), a joke referring to the syrup as having been made by tapping telephone poles
Utility pole
A utility pole is a pole used to support overhead power lines and various other public utilities, such as cable, fibre optic cable, and related equipment such as transformers and street lights. It can be referred to as a telephone pole, power pole, hydro pole, telegraph pole, or telegraph post,...

.

Imitation syrups are generally cheaper than maple syrup, but tend to taste artificial. A 2009 Cook's Illustrated comparison between top-selling maple and imitation syrups consistently rated the real maple brands (Maple Grove Farms, Highland Sugarworks, Camp Maple, Spring Tree, and Maple Gold) above the imitation brands tested (Eggo
Eggo
Eggo is a brand of frozen waffles in the United States, Canada and Mexico, which is owned by the Kellogg Company. Several varieties are available, including Homestyle, blueberry, and chocolate chip....

, Aunt Jemima
Aunt Jemima
Aunt Jemima is a trademark for pancake flour, syrup, and other breakfast foods currently owned by the Quaker Oats Company of Chicago. The trademark dates to 1893, although Aunt Jemima pancake mix debuted in 1889. The Quaker Oats Company first registered the Aunt Jemima trademark in April 1937...

, Mrs. Butterworth's
Mrs. Butterworth's
Mrs. Butterworth's is a brand of pre-packaged syrups and pancake mixes owned by Pinnacle Foods. The syrups come in distinctive bottles shaped in the form of a matronly female, Mrs. Butterworth. The packages, originally glass, are now mostly plastic....

, Log Cabin, and Hungry Jack).

Cultural significance

Maple syrup and maple sugar were used during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 and by abolitionists
Abolitionism
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

 in the years prior to the war because most cane sugar and molasses
Molasses
Molasses is a viscous by-product of the processing of sugar cane, grapes or sugar beets into sugar. The word molasses comes from the Portuguese word melaço, which ultimately comes from mel, the Latin word for "honey". The quality of molasses depends on the maturity of the sugar cane or sugar beet,...

 were produced by Southern slaves. Because of food rationing during the Second World War, people in the northeastern United States were encouraged to stretch their sugar rations by sweetening foods with maple syrup and maple sugar, and recipe books were printed to help housewives employ this alternate source.

Maple products are considered emblematic of Canada, in particular Quebec, and are frequently sold in tourist shops and airports as souvenirs from Canada. The sugar maple's leaf has come to symbolize Canada, and is depicted on the country's flag
Flag of Canada
The national flag of Canada, also known as the Maple Leaf, and , is a red flag with a white square in its centre, featuring a stylized 11-pointed red maple leaf. Its adoption in 1965 marked the first time a national flag had been officially adopted in Canada to replace the Union Flag...

. Several US states, including New York and Vermont, have the sugar maple as their state tree. A scene of sap collection is depicted on the Vermont state quarter
50 State Quarters
The 50 State Quarters program is the release of a series of circulating commemorative coins by the United States Mint. Between 1999 and 2008, it featured each of the 50 U.S. states on unique designs for the reverse of the quarter....

.

Further reading

External links

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