April 6, 2009 / 7:12 AM / 10 years ago

Five facts about maple syrup

Handmade charts showing the number of gallons made, type of syrup and number of boils hangs on the wall in the sugarhouse at Cabot Hills Maple farm in Cabot, Vermont April 1, 2009. This season's $60 a gallon pricetag on maple syrup makes for one expensive pancake breakfast, but it's a windfall for those who coax it out of trees. REUTERS/Herb Swanson

(Reuters) - Prices of maple syrup have doubled over the past two years, after several bad seasons drained supply. The price increase has been a boon for U.S. syrup makers.

Below are five facts about maple syrup:

* The United States produced 1.6 million gallons (7.3 million liters) of syrup in 2008. Canada, the world’s largest supplier, produced 5.1 million gallons (23.2 million liters) of syrup in 2007, the most recent year for which data is available.

* Sugar-makers drill 1.5-inch deep holes into maple trees and insert taps to collect the sap, which they gather through a network of plastic tubes strung through forest, which is also called a “sugarbush.”

* To make the syrup, producers boil down the sap, which concentrates its sweetness. It typically takes 10 gallons (45 liters) of sap to produce one quart (0.9 liters) of syrup.

* The taste of the sap begins to change quickly so most sugar-makers boil it down to syrup the night it is collected.

* The syrup-making season is short, typically lasting a month as winter thaws into spring. Syrup tends to be just one of a farmer’s crops. In Vermont it often supplements a dairy farm.

Reporting by Scott Malone in Vermont and Claire Sibonney in Toronto; Editing by Jason Szep, Doina Chiacu

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