Hi all! Here in the Northeast, we celebrate our beloved maple trees! This is the time of year when the trees wake up the maple sap flows. Due to the record breaking temps we had this winter, the season was short this year. Our local supplier said he was going to produce half of his normal crop. There are many things we don't think about when we consider climate change. Lower maple production is one of those things. Why? It takes 40-50 pounds of sap to produce 1 gallon of syrup. 1 gallon of syrup weighs 11 pounds and is usually around 67% sugar. In order to create that high sugar content, the sap has to be extracted from the tree. This sugar level only happens in late winter.
Maple trees are deciduous, meaning, they drop their leaves in the fall to conserve water and energy. During the winter, the tree goes into a hibernation state, and sends it's sap into the roots for storage. When the temps outside rise above freezing, the sap is drawn up through the tree to prepare for bud and leaf growth. As the temps drop again, the sap retreats to its roots. This upward and downward flow is what allows the sap to trickle out through taps that growers place into the tree.
The longer it stays cold with fluctuations, the better the crop. Without temperature fluctuation, there is no flow. This is why, warmer winters wreck havoc on local production. When the warming occurs earlier and earlier, there is less production. The grower we go to said this was the earliest he's ever tapped his trees, and their farm has been in their family for 150 years!
Our kids love to go tasting and I love hearing about the production. The image shown above is how sap is now collected, through miles of plastic tubing. The tubes deliver the sap into a sugar shack, where it is cooked down and concentrated. If you live in an area where maple production occurs, you should check out your local maple weekend. Around here, it's typically the last 2 weekends in March, but varies, based on the temperatures. Below is our son showing how they used to drill the trees and then hang buckets off of them. A much harder way to do it!
I use maple syrup in many of my recipes in place of refined sugars. It has a heavenly taste, is naturally organic (no need to pay extra for that organic label), is unrefined, and it's plant-based! Plus-you're supporting local growers who care for trees, in an age where farming practices often destroy their land.
My kids enjoy maple syrup every morning on their oatmeal. But-here are some of my recipes that celebrate maple syrup: