Maple syrup and maple sugar come from Sugar Maple trees. These trees have enough sweetness in the sap to make the syrup and sugar. The trees are also brightly colored in autumn.
Let’s start with a map of where Sugar Maple trees are found in the US and Canada.
They start out as seeds.
In the late winter or early spring, the sap rises and the trees can be tapped for sap. There has to be a combination of cold nights and warm days for this to happen. If you tap at the wrong time, you get no sap.
This is the way they used to collect the sap. See that little spigot? That’s what they used to get to the part of the tree where the sap flows. People still use buckets, with lids to collect sap if they are only making a small amount of syrup. It takes a lot of sap to make a bit of syrup. The covers on the buckets prevent stuff from falling into the buckets. Any little bit of dirt or anything else will make the syrup taste icky.
The sap has no taste or smell. When they collect the sap, they uses what is called an evaporator to get the water out of the sap. The sap has to then be boiled until is syrup. This is a difficult and delicate process.
Maple syrup has a distinct syrup. It can’t be imitated. The maple sugar candy is very rich and full of flavor.
The last two picture are of the Sugar Maple in autumn.