Spring Is around the corner and sap is rising

Winter hopefully is fading fast and the first really noticeable signs of spring are here – maple syrup making.  Although we’ve had some warm spots, the weather has had cold nights and above freezing days, the perfect weather for tapping maple trees for sap.  We’ve talked somewhat in a previous column about making maple syrup, but there are some other interesting facts about maple syrup that we would like to pass on.

  • We live in an area of the world unique to maple syrup production as it has several natural phenomena that aren’t found in combination anywhere else in the world. This area basically surrounds the Great Lakes region and extends eastward into New England and southeastern Canada. For one, this region has an abundance of maple tree forests, especially sugar maple trees which have the highest percentage of sugar in their sap (2% – other maples have only 1%).  The region also has a very unusual weather pattern in spring – warm, above freezing days and colder, freezing nights which promote sap flow in the trees.
  • The top maple producing province/state in this area is Quebec, Canada, which harvests around 8 million gallons a year. The next top producer is the state of Vermont with only around 900,000 gallons a year. Ohio ranks 10th with around 65,000 gallons per year.
  • Maple syrup in Ohio can be produced in most regions of the state, but the best sugaring is in Northeast Ohio, including Erie and Lorain counties. The maple industry contributes $5 million to Ohio’s economy.
  • Making maple syrup/sugar goes back to the Native Americans who would boil sap in hollowed-out logs with heated stones. (How did they ever figure out that sap from a tree was sweet and it could be made sweeter by boiling it down!) An interesting fact about the Native American maple production was that they didn’t have means to preserve the syrup, so they would use very little.  Instead, they would keep boiling the sap down to crystalline brown sugar, which they could keep all year as a sweetener.
  • In producing maple syrup, it takes 40-45 gallons of sap to boil down to make one gallon of syrup.
  • The sugar content in the sap is 2-3%, but the sugar content of boiled-down syrup is 66%. (It has to be this percentage to be classified as maple syrup.) Pure Canadian Maple Syrup has a sugar content of 100%, but some syrups, such as Log Cabin, Vermont Maid, Aunt Jemima, or Mrs. Butterworth have 0-2% maple syrup and can’t be sold as maple syrup.

So have a long stack (or short stack) with pure maple syrup and enjoy one of the delicious bounties from trees!

If you have questions or concerns, feel free to contact the Vermilion Tree Commission by contacting Anne Maiden at the Mayor’s Office at annemaiden@vermilion.net or at 440-204-2402.  You are also cordially invited to attend our monthly Tree Commission meeting which is held on the second Wednesday of the month. The Tree Commission will meet at the Ritter Public Library on Wednesday, March 14, 2018, at 9:30 AM.



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