10 Things You Didn't Know About Maple Syrup
- Real maple syrup is nature’s antifreeze—trees make it to protect their delicate roots from the ferocious Maine winter temperatures. A good way to tell if you have fake syrup is to put it in the freezer. If it turns solid, it’s not real.
- Humans aren’t the only species that tap maple trees. The North American Squirrel uses its two front teeth to carve into maple trees and drink the sap that leaks out. In fact, some people think that is where Native Americans first got the idea.
- There is a disease that makes your urine smell like maple syrup. “Maple syrup urine disease” is pretty serious; it’s a recessive genetic condition that causes a buildup of amino acids that can lead to brain damage, coma, cognitive disabilities, or even death.
- It takes around 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup, which weighs in at around 11 pounds.
- While Vermont produces the most maple syrup in the United States by state, Somerset County, Maine, claims to produce the most maple syrup by county.
- A maple tree typically isn’t tapped until it is around 30 years old and many maple trees have been tapped for 150 or more years.
- Tapping does no permanent damage to the tree and only about 10% of the sap is collected each year. The process is indefinitely sustainable if managed properly.
- We use maple syrup to create the perfect stack of pancakes (among other things) but the maple tree uses sap to produce its many buds in the spring.
- The largest agricultural heist of all time involved more than 20 people stealing $18 million worth of maple syrup (six million pounds) from the Strategic Reserve in Quebec. The story is so crazy it would make for a good movie. In fact, Sony thought so too. It’s in the works and will be starring Jason Segel.
- Although the process began with simply tapping trees, collecting buckets and boiling sap, it now uses miles of tubing to replace the buckets of old. Things can look so crazy as to fool even the police. In fact, in Illinois, police busted a “meth lab” that turned out to be producing maple syrup.