Maple syrup is a syrup usually made from the xylem sap of sugar maple, red maple, or black maple trees, although it can also be made from other maple species such as the big leaf maple. In cold climates, these trees store starch in their trunks and roots before the winter; the starch is then converted to sugar that rises in the sap in the spring. Maple trees can be tapped by boring holes into their trunks and collecting the exuded sap. The sap is processed by heating to evaporate some of the water, leaving the concentrated syrup.
Maple syrup was first collected and used by indigenous people of North America. The practice was adopted by European settlers, who gradually improved production methods. Technological improvements in the 1970s further refined syrup processing. Quebec, Canada is by far the largest producer, making about three-quarters of the world‘s output; Canada exports more than C$145 million worth of maple syrup a year. Vermont is the largest producer in the United States, generating about 5.5 percent of the global supply.
The syrup is graded according to the Canada, United States, or Vermont scales based on its density and translucency. Sucrose is the most prevalent sugar in maple syrup. Syrups must be at least 66 percent sugar to qualify as maple syrup in Canada. In the US, a syrup must be made almost entirely from maple sap to be labeled as "maple". Maple syrup is often eaten with waffles, pancakes, oatmeal (porridge), and French toast. It is also used as an ingredient in baking, and as a sweetener and flavoring agent. Culinary experts have praised its unique flavor, though the chemistry responsible is not fully understood. Maple syrup and the sugar maple tree are symbols of Canada and several US states, in particular Vermont.