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What Flows From a Tree, and Is Sweet As Can Be?

Written by Urban Ecology Center
    Wednesday, 13 March 2013
What Flows From a Tree, and Is Sweet As Can Be?

It’s that time of year again – time to tap the maple trees, more specifically the sugar maples! Every year, the Urban Ecology Center takes part in the uniquely American tradition of maple sugaring by tapping the maple trees in Riverside and Washington Parks and boiling down the sap to make maple syrup!

As the end of winter approaches, the days get longer and the ground starts to thaw, awakening trees, which means the sap starts to flow! This allows for the process of maple sugaring.

So, how exactly do you get maple syrup?

The sap of sugar maples starts to "flow" when we have freezing nights (20 degrees) and warmer days (40 degrees). Each tree will produce about 20 gallons of sap and it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. To make the maple syrup that we know and love, the sap is boiled to approximately 219 degrees. The faster the sap is boiled, the higher the quality of the syrup. 

Last year, sap collection was low throughout the country due to an unusually warm winter. This year’s colder temperatures and large snowfalls should lead to a longer maple sugaring season and therefore more sap!

When livening up dessert or breakfast with the delicate taste of maple syrup, we like to remember that this sweet treat comes from a tree trunk! If you are interested in learning more about maple syrup production from photosynthesis to pancake, check out our programs at Riverside Park and Washington Park and join us for our annual pancake breakfast.

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