Edible, Delectable Gold

It was very cold last night and the warm sun is now pushing temperatures well above freezing. The sap is flowing!!!  Unique to northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada, Sugar Maple and it’s sweet byproducts are as symbolic of March as the arrival of migratory birds. Native Americans taught early settlers about this natural source of sugar, and it soon became a staple. Today, it helps fuel the economy of an entire region.

The classic bucket collection technique shown here on a row of mature Sugar Maples is a disappearing landscape. Commercial operators now use plastic tubing systems and vacuum pumps to collect sap.


One to three taps are usually installed on each tree, the number depending on the size of the tree. A single tap might yield about 10 gallons of sap.


Many “sugar bushes” have been operated for generations; some trees have been tapped annually for over 100 years.


The Rule of 86: Determine the sugar content of sugar maple sap (assume it’s about 2%) and divide 86 by that number. The result, 43, is the number of gallons of sap that must be boiled down to produce one gallon of pure maple syrup.

About 300 natural flavor compounds have been identified in maple syrup. Those chemical components, as well as soils, genetics, weather and date of collection, all contribute to the the unique taste and appeal of this natural, renewable source of sugar.

Edible, delectable gold!!!


Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.


7 thoughts on “Edible, Delectable Gold

    • Thanks Alison. That’s the type of comment I was hoping for, given the regional limits of the subject. Glad I dropped everything and took the time to get those pics — it’s been raining and/or snowing ever since!

    • Your mention of trees brought to mind another reason for creating the post. It’s not just the traditional methods that are disappearing. Large, healthy, roadside sugar maples like I photographed are rarely seen now. Even though Sugar Maple is the most common tree species in the region, that long row of majestic old survivors brought me to a screeching halt! Hope they’re still standing in October. 🙂

      • I can see why. I saw a few posts on collecting sap, but they never showed it like you did. Trees in the woods, but not as big and majestic. There was a sugar maple in front of my house before the city removed it. It never got big like the Norway Maples lining the street. It got diseased and was removed. Not a great street tree. They need lots of water.

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