Maple Syrup: The Liquid Gold from North America

crown maple field

Sugar Shack Day - the Beginning of Maple Syrup Production

While the nights are still cold in spring, the days are getting longer, sunnier, and warmer. Under these conditions, sugar maple trees begin producing the coveted maple sap, which is harvested primarily in Canada but also in the northeastern United States and processed into delicious maple syrup. Americans often celebrate the start of maple syrup production with a day called "Sugar Shack Day." Sugar shacks, known as "Zuckerhütten" in German, are typically semi-commercial, small huts or groups of huts in eastern Canada and northern New England where maple syrup is produced. During specific months, including the beginning of the production period, they often offer activities such as tours, tastings, or various outdoor events like horse-drawn sleigh rides.

Tapping and Cooking: How Maple Syrup Is Made

The basis for maple syrup is the so-called maple sap, a mixture of sugar from the sugar maple tree and water from the soil. Maple sap starts flowing through the tree when the temperature remains below freezing at night and above freezing during the day, which occurs in the spring between February and April depending on the region. To extract the sap, the tree's trunk is drilled, and a spigot is inserted – a process also referred to as "tapping." Depending on the size and age of the tree, up to five tap holes can be drilled without harming the tree. The collected sap is then caught in buckets or flows directly through pipelines for further processing in the sugar shacks.

In the sugar shacks, the sap extracted from the maple tree is boiled at a temperature of 100°C (212°F), causing the sugar to caramelize. What remains is a syrup with a honey-like consistency: maple syrup. It is then filtered, bottled or jarred, and cooled before being offered locally on-site, at local markets, or through trade.

Numbers and Facts – Interesting Information about Maple Syrup


  • Even the Native American peoples in northeastern America produced maple syrup and used it to enhance their foods.

  • Canada is the largest producer of maple syrup, accounting for around 80% of the globally sold quantity (approximately 73 million kg in 2016). In the USA, maple syrup is produced in New England.

  • Before being boiled down, maple sap is clear and liquid, resembling water.

  • The sap of the sugar maple tree consists of only 3% maple sugar and 97% water, while the syrup, which is the boiled down maple sap, contains 68% sugar and only 32% water.

  • Approximately 40 to 50 liters of maple sap are needed to produce one liter of maple syrup.

Classification of Maple Syrup

A few years ago, Canada and the USA agreed on a unified classification system for maple syrup. The basis for categorizing maple syrup into specific grades is its translucency: the lighter the syrup, the more light can pass through. While lighter maple syrup has a milder taste, its flavor becomes stronger and more robust as the syrup gets darker. Whether maple syrup is light or dark depends on the "harvest time" of the maple sap: the later it is tapped from the tree, the darker the syrup. If the maple sap stays in the tree longer, substances develop that darken the sap and are nutritionally less valuable, which is why lighter maple syrup is considered the most valuable.


The Canadian-American classification grades for maple syrup:





Grade A

golden color

delicate taste


very light

Grade A

amber color

rich taste



Grade A

dark color

robust taste



Grade A

very dark color

strong taste

very strong



In Europe, by the way, a different system is in place, which should not be confused with the Canadian-American one!


Crown Maple: Quality Maple Syrup from New York

Crown Maple produces perhaps the purest maple syrup in the world – the products from Crown Maple Farms in the picturesque Hudson River Valley have graced many exclusive dishes in numerous New York fine-dining restaurants. The company has developed the reverse osmosis method, a particularly gentle way to separate the delicate maple sap from the water. Furthermore, Crown Maple filters both the sap and syrup multiple times, resulting in an exceptionally pure and fine-flavored syrup. Each flavor has its unique note:


Leaves a lasting aroma of caramel, roasted nuts, and butter in your mouth. Amber Color complements muffins and cakes and is excellent for enhancing teas and cocktails.

Combines flavors of gingerbread and roasted chestnuts with toffee and freshly ground coffee. This variety adds a special touch to pancakes and waffles, but it also works wonderfully as a glaze for roasts or chicken.

The richest and most intense of the three varieties. It evokes notes of coffee and chocolate with brown sugar and burnt almonds. Perfect for enhancing coffee, bread, and meat dishes.


Additionally, Crown Maple offers other creative flavor variations, such as Bourbon Barrel Aged Maple Syrup and flavors like Vanilla, Cinnamon, and Applewood Smoked.


Sweetening and Enhancing: Using Maple Syrup in the Kitchen

Most people are familiar with the classic combinations of American pancakes, fresh waffles, or French toast with maple syrup. However, the liquid gold from North America has much more to offer. Especially in America, the trend is to use maple syrup as a sugar substitute for sweetening. Maple syrup provides two benefits: it's much more flavorful than sugar, and you need a smaller quantity to achieve the same level of sweetness. Furthermore, the syrup is rich in minerals and even surpasses honey in this regard. Whether it's coffee, tea, classic hot milk, or even long drinks and cocktails, the creative uses of maple syrup as a sweetener are virtually limitless.

In baking, for instance, in muffins or cakes, maple syrup can be added to the batter for sweetness and enhancement. Maple syrup also works wonderfully on ice cream and other desserts, and it adds a special touch to muesli and yogurt. For use with savory dishes like bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs, or as an ingredient in sauces and salad dressings, maple syrup is just as suitable.

Sugar Shack Day at American Heritage in Munich

This year, American Heritage is once again celebrating Sugar Shack Day, marking the start of maple syrup production. Join us on March 16, 2019, at our store in Munich, celebrate with us, and discover exciting offers related to maple syrup.