there was a time when i didn't know that maple-flavored syrup wasn't really maple syrup, and didn't care.
i'll bet there are lots of people who still don't know! once my cousin cathy came to visit me and asked me "where's the maple sugar industry?"
i said more or less "say what?"
she wondered where in this rural and forested state were the factories big enough to make all that maple syrup sold worldwide -- she meant products like aunt jemima's.
she wondered was i was putting her on when i told her that for a few weeks in spring, sap gushed from holes drilled in trees, and was gathered in buckets, poured into vats often pulled on sledges by horses, and boiled down 40 to 1 to make syrup.
nowadays many big syrup makers use tubing through the hilly woods from tree to tree to a collection tank, but some still use horses to get up in the snowy hills. (the trees won't grow in nice rows on flat land like apple trees). many people tap just a few trees around their place and gather the sap by snowshoe. something to do when the weather is warming, but too cold and muddy for anything else outside.
once you have a tank of sap, you need an outdoor shed for the 40 to 1 boiling, unless you are tired of your kitchen wallpaper.
and that's why the stuff is wicked expensive, but tastes like nothing else!
here are some photos of local sugaring so far this spring!