You know what’s funny? I grew up in Vermont and never once tapped maple trees to make syrup. I had a friend up the street who did it, and we took elementary school field trips to see how sugaring was done. My mother and I even talked about doing it once or twice, as we had maples in the back yard. But we never did. And yet when I see maple trees, and especially in the autumn when they are ablaze with color, I always think back to sugaring and the sound of sap dripping into galvanized steel buckets in the spring, and the raw taste of it when licked off my finger, and the clouds of steam that come off the evaporator while it’s being processed.
It takes an average of 50 gallons of sap to make a single gallon of syrup, and that figure can vary spike to almost double depending on the sugar content of the sap. I find it staggering to think of maple trees as being capable of giving up that much sap at all, much less giving it up and still surviving. Nevermind the massive investment in time, fuel, and energy required to boil it down to those little bottles of syrup we buy at the store.
But then again, when you grow up on real maple syrup, you can’t go back to the fake stuff. Those little plastic packets you get at diners are disgusting to the kid who watched the real thing get made.