Spring's sweetest gift, maple syrup! Please don't be fooled by the artificial imitation called "Maple Flavored Syrup", go for the real deal!! You won't regret it! Even though the price of a 540ml can reached a high of 10$ a unit, here in Québec, so probably higher where you are due to importation fees, it is totally worth a try. It's natural, and heavenly good!
Now, for a bit of info ( thanks Wiki!)...
Canada makes more than 80 percent of the world's maple syrup, producing about 26.5 million litres in 2005. The vast majority of this comes from Québec: the province is by far the world's largest producer, with about 75 percent of the world production 24.66 million litres in 2005).
Traditionally, maple syrup was harvested by tapping a maple tree through the bark and into the wood, then letting the sap run into a bucket, which required daily collecting; less labour-intensive methods such as the use of continuous plastic pipelines have since superseded this, in all but cottage-scale production.
Production is concentrated in March, and April, depending on local weather conditions. Freezing nights and warm days are needed in order to induce sap flows. The change in temperature from above to below freezing causes water uptake from the soil, and temperatures above freezing cause a stem pressure to develop, which, along with gravity, causes sap to flow out of tapholes or other wounds in the stem or branches. To collect the sap, holes are bored into the maple trees and tubes (taps, spouts, spiles) are inserted. Sap flows through the spouts into buckets or into plastic tubing. Modern use of plastic tubing with a partial vacuum has enabled increased production. A hole must be drilled in a new location each year, as the old hole will produce sap for only one season due to the natural healing process of the tree, called walling-off. Maple sap is collected from the buckets and taken to the sugar house; if plastic tubing and pipelines are used, then the pipelines are arranged so that the sap will flow by gravity into the sugar house, or if that is not possible, into holding tanks from which the sap is pumped or transported by tanker truck to the sugar house.
It takes approximately 40 litres (10 gal) of sap to be boiled down to 1 litre (1 quart) of syrup. A mature sugar maple produces about 40 litres of sap during the 4-6 week sugaring season. Trees are not tapped until they have a diameter of 25 cm (10 in) at chest-height and the tree is at least 40 years old.
It's sugar time here, and we are enjoying it!!
Drinking the sweet sap right out of the bucket...