That thick golden syrup you pour on your pancakes and waffles is either colored, flavored corn syrup or it’s real maple syrup. The difference is like night and day. The flavored stuff is okay for dilettantes, but true connoisseurs won’t put up with anything but the real thing.
The real thing comes from maple trees. And if it’s made in the U.S., odds are it comes from Vermont, which is the largest producer of maple syrup in the states, turning out 41% of U.S. production of maple syrup, in 2011, according to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AMRC). For example, Cold Hollow Cider Mill creates some of the best maple syrup around. Their syrup comes from the sap of sugar maple, red maple, or black maple trees.
Canada produces by far the largest amounts of maple syrup in the world, with the province of Quebec leading the way, being responsible for about 75% to 80% of the world’s output of maple syrup, almost 8,000,000 gallons per year, as cited by Jordan Weissmann in The Atlantic. And don’t let anyone fool you. Maple syrup is big business. Canadian exports of maple syrup exceed C$145 million. In 2011, U.S. production of maple syrup went up 43% from 2010. Almost half of that was generated by Vermont, followed by Maine at 13%, Wisconsin at 6%, and Pennsylvania processed 5%. Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, Massachusetts, and Connecticut accounted for the remainder (AMRC).
Maple syrup is graded based upon density and transparency. In Canada, syrups must be composed of at least 66% sugar and derive exclusively from maple sap to qualify as maple syrup. In the United States, syrups must be made entirely from maple syrup to be labeled as "maple." Otherwise, they must be labeled as "maple flavored." For example, Cold Hollow maple syrup is 100% pure maple syrup.