How maple syrup is made

In springtime, when the nights are still cold, water from the soil is absorbed into the maple tree. During the day, the warmer temperature creates pressure that pushes the water back down to the bottom of the tree, making it easy to collect the precious maple sap.

The sap is gathered over 12 to 20 days, usually between early March and late April, according to the region.

Maple tree tapping

Each maple tree is ‘tapped’ – a hole is drilled into the tree to a depth of around three inches, into which a metal spile is tapped. A lidded metal container is then hung from the spile to collect the sap.

Many of today’s sugar houses employ a network of tubing to connect the trees to a vacuum pump inside the building. This exerts pressure on the sap and encourages it to flow.

How many times you can tap a single tree is calculated based on the tree’s diameter, health and growth rate. Any maple tree measuring about 8 inches in diameter or more can be tapped.

Maple sap evaporation

After harvesting in the maple woods, the sap is transported to a sugar house, where it boils down to become pure maple syrup. During cooking, storage tank pipes feed sap to a long and narrow ridged pan called an evaporator. As it boils, water evaporates and becomes denser and sweeter. Sap boils until it reaches the density of maple syrup.

About 40 litres (10.5 gallons) of sap boil down to one litre (about 0.25 gallons or one quart) of pure maple syrup.

After evaporation, the finished Quebec syrup is taken to be inspected and graded before it is bottled or canned, and shipped.

Latest Recipes
25 Jun 2017 Poached cod fillet with maple dressing

Succulent, flaky cod marries with zingy fresh flavours and sweet maple syrup. You can also experiment with different types of fish and make the most of what is in season.

25 Jun 2017 Sticky maple glazed fish with maple teriyaki sauce

A delicious fish stir-fry with Oriental flourishes and lovely nutritious vegetables including aubergine, peppers and pak choi. You can also use pork with this sticky teriyaki sauce.

25 Jun 2017 Maple pear and blackberry crumble

Seasonal fruits shine in a luscious crumble that is the essence of comfort food. Blackberries are spectacular in the British summer and early autumn.

23 Jun 2017 Beef and noodle stir-fry with maple Asian greens

Oodles of noodles make for a super maple beef stir-fry. There is lots of fibre thanks to the vitamin-rich green vegetables, which take on a lovely caramelised quality with the syrup.