A sure sign of spring in Vermont is the steam rising from the sugarhouses. We are lucky enough to have several sugarhouses within walking distance of our home! There is nothing better than pure Vermont maple syrup and once you taste it it is hard to go back to a commercial brand.
Maple syrup is syrup usually made from the sap of the sugar maple. In cold climates, such as Vermont, maple trees store their starch in their trunks and roots before the winter; the starch is then converted to sugar that rises in the sap in late winter and early spring. Maple trees can be tapped by drilling holes into their trunks and collecting the exuded sap, which is then processed by heating to evaporate much of the water, leaving the concentrated syrup. It takes roughly 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup.
Indigenous peoples living in northeastern North America were the first groups known to have produced maple syrup and maple sugar and folks have been enjoying it ever since!
Originally the taps were set in the trees and buckets were used to collect the sap. Now you are more apt to see plastic tubing running from tree to tree down into a collection tank.Despite the newer techniques to streamline the sap boiling method it is pretty much unchanged from the early days. Sap is collected and boiled down to obtain pure syrup without chemical agents or preservatives.
If you’ve never seen the process before, take a trip to Vermont in February or March and observe a sugarhouse in action. Take home some real maple syrup; nothing tastes better on those homemade waffles!