Spring is near at hand when the maple trees are tapped for syrup. Nova Scotia has plenty of these 40 year old sugar maple trees. Native American legend and lore is that maple syrup and maple sugar were being made before recorded history. Native Americans were the first to discover 'sinzibuckwud', the Algonquin word for maple syrup, meaning literally 'drawn from wood'. The process of refining the raw syrup has under gone little change over the first two hundred years of recorded maple syrup making.
Maple sap is thin, barely sweet and as colorless as spring water. The distinctive maple taste comes only through boiling. However, the sugar in the sap is a bit of a mystery. It seems that each fall, the tree produces its own supply of starch to act as an anti-freeze for the roots in winter. With the melting of snow, water enters the roots and begins the circulation of 'sugar water' through the tree in preparation for the growing season. As a result, sap runs in fits and starts from the first spring thaw until the buds turn into leaves from mid-March until April. During the growing season, maples accumulate starch. With the spring thaw, enzymes change this starch into sugar which mixes with the water absorbed through the roots, imparting a slightly sweet taste.