Become a maple syrup connoisseur.
Buttermilk Pancakes with Masa Harina
Credit: © Christina Holmes

The height of maple syrup season is upon us, and you only have a few weeks left to make the most of it! No, I’m not talking about the corn syrup-laden goo peddled by a certain “Aunt” who shall remain nameless, but that 100 percent natural, amber syrup that comes straight from the Maple tree. Contrary to popular belief, March is when maple syrup production is at its peak – the days are warm, the nights are cold and maple sap is running like water. Take a page out of Vince Vaughn’s book and start pouring that liquid gold over everything!

Here, five facts and essential recipes for the Maple Syrup connoisseur.

1. Budding trees = no more maple syrup. While buds on the trees are usually an exciting sign of spring, unfortunately, it also signals the end of maple syrup season. As the weather starts to get warm, maple sap slows because trees are holding on to their sugary sap to create flowers. So take advantage of the moment before spring is in full bloom!

2. It takes 40 gallons of maple sap to make just one gallon of maple syrup. (Hence, why the pure stuff can be so pricey).

3. Just like wine, maple syrup has terroir. Whether the maple trees are on a rocky cliff or near a grassy knoll, a trained palate should be able to pull out a syrup’s particular notes, such as chocolate, mushroom or even soy sauce. As the terroir movement continues to gain popularity, keep an eye out for hyper-local and potentially “private reserve” maple syrups.

4. Global warming is detrimental to our pancakes. In the 1950’s, the United States produced 80 percent of the world’s maple syrup. However, due to warming climates and shortening maple syrup seasons, the U.S. is now only responsible for 20 percent, with more northern regions like Quebec producing two-thirds of the world’s syrup. As global warming worsens, maple syrup production will continue to be driven further north.

5. Maple syrup can spoil. It’s time to toss that bottle of Vermont maple syrup that your boss’ sister gave you 5 years ago. Even if a bottle of maple syrup has not been opened, it loses its potency and unique nuances the longer it sits. For the best flavor, try to enjoy maple syrup within a few months of buying it.

Here, 5 of our favorite recipes that are all about the maple syrup: