Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Maple Syrup

By Ian Kleine

This symbol of sugary goodness cannot be helped but get associated with Vermont. Maple syrup is a world-known sweetener derived from the sap of maple trees, those that grow well in good numbers in the forests and mountains of Vermont. Maple syrup is often served with waffle and pancakes around the US and in Canada.

It is also used for baking and making candy, for desserts or as an alternative source of sugar and as a flavoring agent for beer. The most prevalent form of sugar in maple syrup is actually sucrose, since fructose is less visible in non-fruit trees. Sucrose is also the more prevalent form of sugar in sugar cane and beets.

Maple syrup production is usually around the northern parts of America, associated with Quebec in Canada and the state of Vermont as the main producers of this sweet delicacy. Maple syrup can be obtained with the right and correct weather conditions. The trees most tapped for their sap is the sugar maple and the black maple, with a high sugar content of roughly two percent. The sap is tapped from the bark, delivered and sent to local 'sugar houses' for syrup production.

Traditionally, the sap is harvested by tapping, a process of producing incisions in the bark to allow the sap to drip. The sap is directed to run into buckets which are collected daily and then stored in a larger container. Some sugar houses use plastic pipelines in contrast to buckets, and only small-scale sugar houses and homes use the bucket method nowadays.

Sap harvesting is done during spring, when the nights are still winter-cold, but the days are somewhat summer-warm. This stimulates the trees to produce a good amount of sap. Every year, farmers must make a different tap section or hole in the tree because the tree heals the old wounds up.

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