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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?