This past weekend was Maine Maple Sunday, so we took the kids out to visit a maple syrup farm!
Yes, maple syrup comes from maple trees. There are even origin myths for maple syrup and maple sugar, which was a winter survival food for the Native Americans.
In the early spring, when the nights are cold and the days are (kind of) warm, sap starts to flow in the sugar maple trees. Apparently, the sap only contains enough sugar to make syrup if days are warm and sunny, and nights dip below freezing. So maple syrup production is limited to cold, Northern states.
(And you, Canada.)
Early spring is when you can put a tap in a sugar maple tree and collect the sap (no, this doesn’t hurt the tree). Maple sap is clear and only mildly sugar-y.
To make maple syrup and sugar, you need to boil the ever-loving heck out of the sap in the sugar shack.
Maple sap is boiled for hours to become syrup, which drips into the huge, silver jug. It takes 40 gallons of sap for one gallon of syrup, which is why one gallon of maple syrup costs over $50.
My husband (the scientist) looked up the chemistry of maple syrup once we got home. Maple sugar is apparently exactly the same as regular sugar – it’s a combination of glucose and fructose.
And the rest of maple syrup?
“Oh, it’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect to find in any type of blood,” he said. “It’s just tree blood.”
So maple syrup is… distilled tree blood.
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