Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Maple Tree Tapping is a Big Deal in Ohio

 

In Ohio the tapping of sugar maple trees has been going on for a few weeks since mid February this year.
As a child I remember my Grandfather, Lester Brown tapping his Sugar Maple trees in late winter to collect the sap. Grandma Brown then cooked the collected sap down making some of the most delicious Maple Syrup which we latter had on her wonderful pancakes. It is just one of those wonderful childhood memories.
Some friends are collecting sap now to use and to some it has become a hobby. But in Ohio the tapping of Sugar Maple trees is taken quite seriously.

Tree_maple_syrup festivalPioneer
Picture Courtesy of Ohio Festivals

Long before the first European ever set foot in North America, Native Americans were already gathering sap from maple trees. Early Ohioans quickly caught on to the idea, appreciating it as a sweet substitute for the hard-to-come-by cane sugar.
While methods have changed,the basic process for creating maple syrup has not: tapping, collecting sap, boiling it to evaporate the water, leaving a thick, sweet, amber-colored syrup. Yummy!

tap_hammer
Picture Courtesy of Biology UC Education

Any kind of maple tree can be tapped for its sap, but the highest sugar content – therefore the best syrup – comes from sugar maples. Sugar maples also have the longest period of sap flow before buds open. Once a tree buds, usually the end of March, the sugaring season is over. Buds reduce the amount of sugar in the sap, causing it to have an unpleasant taste.

Tapping_Maple2
Picture Courtesy Wisconsin History Org. 

Small holes are bored in the trunk just large enough to accommodate a small spout, which directs the sap into a bucket or plastic tubing. After the tapping season, the old taps heal over and new holes are drilled elsewhere the following spring. The ideal sugar maple reaches tap size around 40 years of age and could continue providing sap for up to 100 years.

Tree tap
Picture Courtesy of Minnesota Public Radio

Experts in the maple syrup industry say it takes 31 to 45 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup, and one tree might yield 11 gallons of sap a month.

Tapping_Maple
Picture Courtesy of Ohio Geology & Biodiversity

Did you know that North America is the only place in the world that maple syrup is produced? Ohio ranks 4th or 5th each year in U.S. production and maple syrup producers gather about 4,000,000 gallons of sap each year.
Ohio maple producers produce some of the finest pure maple syrup in the world. Similar to fine wines, pure maple syrup gets its flavor from the geographic region. Maple syrup produced in Northern Ohio has a different flavor than syrup produced in Southern Ohio. Regardless of where in Ohio, the Buckeye State's syrups offer a wonderful flavor that we know you will agree is some of the finest in the world.
 Tree_maple-syrup-bottles
Ohio Maple Producers Organization

Trees that can be tapped are Silver, Sugar and Red Maples, as well as Box Elder trees.

Have any of you tapped trees to make maple syrup or remember your elders doing it?


Happy Gardening,

Lona

22 comments:

Debby said...

Our Kiwanis has a Pancake Day with the maple syrup after they harvest it. They used to put the buckets on the trees throught the village but I haven't seen that the last coupe of years. Loved going on field trips and seeing it done in person.

Terra said...

I did not know that Ohio has such an abundance of sugar maples and big maple syrup production. Yum.

pivi said...

Thanks, very interesting post. Old Finnish people have tapped birches, I once got it from my neighbour. Didn't much taste, but it is said to be very healthy.

Zoey said...

I do love maple syrup. I almost never make pancakes, but I have been known to warm it and pour it over vanilla ice cream--delicious!

Janet QueenofSeaford said...

Very interesting Lona. I have never done this...sounds like a great history lesson with benefits of maple syrup when the lesson is done.

sharon said...

always wanted to see this...and taste it i have one of those leave jars......

Andrea said...

Hi Lona, i am glad i came here. This is a very informative post. I've read somewhere before the production but not the details like this. It is just like tapping rubber trees though different styles of wounding. We are now also into producing coconut sugar, which was just discovered in the last few years.

pogonip said...

I inadvertantly tapped my sugar maple one year by cutting off a small branch! We just put a pie tin down to collect the drippings and enjoyed the flavor. And I learned to prune my maples after they've leafed out!

Sunray Gardens said...

Enjoyable post. I had my Maples cut down. LOL They were way too big to be in a suburb but the process of syrup is always interesting.
Cher Sunray Gardens

~Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

Wow. I learned a lot from this post. First of all, I must say I've never thought about maple syrup coming from Ohio. Love that sweetness. Thanks for all the info. Enjoy the syrups.

Stephanie said...

Your sugar maple trees are so so sweet hehe... Over here we tap rubber trees for their latex to make tyres LOL...

Janneke said...

Maple syrup is indeed delicious, for instance on pancakes and we import it from America. Now I know how it is produced. Thank you very much for this informative and interesting post.

Nadezda said...

Lona, I've never known how the syrup is made. Interesting! Thank you for telling.
I think it's the same way to produce the birch sap.

HolleyGarden said...

Very interesting information. I buy real maple syrup (there's a lot of imitations out there), but have never seen it done, or heard of it being done around here. Now I wonder if the syrup I have comes from Ohio!

Gatsbys Gardens said...

I live in a very old town where we have a mill and they do tapping in the wooded area along the creek. I don't always appreciate this unique experience but you reminded me how lucky we are to have this experience especially for the children in the community.

The Sage Butterfly said...

So interesting, Lona! I am glad this practice is still thriving. Wonderful post!

Foxglove Lane said...

Wonderful history and so evokative of a special tradition. thanks for sharing it with us:~))

Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams said...

cool, I thought that the maple sugar came more from back east in Canada...lol. Live and learn.

Loved how you showed us in photos, and words what goes on.

I don't think it's cold enough of a winter here to get syrup.

Jen

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Hi Lona,
I enjoyed your post. I always get real maple syrup at the grocery store. I'll have to look at the bottle to see if it says where it's from. I don't know if anyone taps in Nebraska.

Alistair said...

Quite fascinating Lona, a practise that does not go on in Scotland.

Mindy @ The Howell Blessings said...

Our son tapped his Sugar Maple when he lived in Iowa. he was in the city and most folks had no idea what he was doing! Now that he's in Wisconsin, he has 7 Maples that he plans to tap into. I expect Maple Syrup for Christmas soon!

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