Spring is synonymous with maple syrup season throughout certain regions of Canada — Québec, in particular (they are responsible for three-quarters of the world’s output!). As winter wanes, maple trees start to release their sugary sap and harvesters eagerly tap at the start of this ephemeral season.
Harvesting maple syrup and sugar (the remnants of the sap after it’s boiled for longer than needed to make sap, also known as maple taffy) is a tradition that dates back to before the European colonization of North America. It is actually one of the few modern agricultural processes in North America that is not a European colonial import. In its most basic practice, harvesters used tools to make incisions in the trees before inserting another tool that would allow the sap to run into buckets made of birch bark. The sap was then "slightly concentrated either by throwing a hot stone in the bucket" or by allowing it to freeze overnight before disposing of the top layer of ice.
From artisanal to industrial, modern methods have evolved to allow a range of harvesting and processing methods. As in today’s travel photo, tapping and boiling one’s own syrup at a sugar shack (or cabane à sucre) remains a popular activity for locals and tourists.
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