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.