Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup

The mention of maple syrup brings to mind that tasty, sweet stuff used to drench pancakes, waffles, and French toast. I grew up using pancake syrup with names like Log Cabin, Mrs. Butterworth’s, and Aunt Jemima. Those are not maple syrups, instead using primary ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, flavored and thickened. Most consumers generally prefer these imitations syrups because of the sweeter flavor and lower cost. True maple syrup is derived from the sap of maple trees…thus the name “maple syrup.” Funny how the naming thing works.

Northeastern North American tribes were the first groups known to have produced maple syrup. Both archaeological evidence and tribal traditions of Native Americans substantiate the processing of maple syrup long before Europeans settled in North America. During early colonization of northeastern North American, local Native American tribes showed the new European colonist how to tap the trunks of certain types of maples in the spring to harvest the sap.

The United States produced most of the world’s maple syrup until the 1930’s, when Canada became the largest. Canada produces more than 80 percent of the world’s maple syrup today. Vermont is the biggest U.S. producer, followed by New York. Maple syrup has been produced on a much smaller scale in some other countries, primarily Japan and South Korea.

So You Want To Make Some Yourself

Canadians joke if you want to make common, non-maple pancake syrups, then tap a utility pole. But if you want to make your own maple syrup the first item you need is a tree. Not any tree..a maple tree. It should be about at least a foot in diameter (30.48cm for Canadians.) Best types are: Sugar Maple, Black Maple, Red Maple, and Silver Maple. Birch and Walnut have also be used. Expect a yield of 1 gallon of maple syrup for every 40 gallons of sap. You will need buckets to collect the sap, a method of drilling a hole, a tap, cheesecloth and hooks. Sap usually starts flowing sometime between mid February and mid March, depending on your area. You should collect sap daily and it must be stored at 38 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. It should be boiled within 7 days of collection. Unless boiling small batches, boiling outdoors is the preferred area because of the amount of steam produced.

If after reading this you are potentially interested in making your own maple syrup, Tap My Trees website is a good resource for detailed instructions.


This topic prompted by the following passage from The Field Trip:

After finishing his meal, he decided he would attempt
to extract some verbiage from her by example. Searching for
some interesting topic, he gazed around the camp until a
sugar maple tree caught his eye. “Did you know it takes forty
to fifty gallons of sap from a maple tree to get just one single
gallon of maple syrup?”
“No,” she responded with disinterest.

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