Attention waffle lovers: U.S. oozes maple syrup

Fri Jun 10, 2011 12:16pm EDT
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By Zach Howard

ASHFIELD, Mass (Reuters) - Stack up the pancakes!

Maple syrup production hit a 76-year high in the United States this year with the help of an especially long season for tapping sap from maple trees.

The perfect combination of mild days and frosty nights in key harvesting areas this winter and spring touched off a near record-breaking flow of the rich, tasty sap, Hernan Ortiz, statistician with the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, said on Friday.

Nationwide output of maple syrup jumped 43 percent to 2.8 million gallons in 2011, its highest mark since 1935, Ortiz said.

"Every single state that we collected information from reported an increase in production this year," he said.

To produce syrup, a traditional favorite topping for pancakes and waffles, the watery clear sap is boiled until it concentrates into a thick amber syrup. Forty gallons of sap make about one gallon of syrup.

The sugary delicacy first was cultivated centuries ago by Native American tribes.

This year, Vermont again was the leading producer with 1.1 million gallons, a peak reaching back to the 1940s, said Ortiz. New York was second with 564,000 gallons, the most by far since record keeping began in about 1970. Maine took third place with 360,000 gallons.   Continued...

<p>Bottles of maple syrup made by Marcia Maynard and Ken Denton are seen in Cabot, Vermont April 1, 2009. REUTERS/Herb Swanson</p>