Usually harvested in the upper Midwestern area of the United States, pure maple syrup is often quite expensive for such a small quantity. Is the purchase price worth such an expensive condiment when its most known use is as a pancake or waffle topping? Well, not only does it take a long time to make, but it is a lot healthier than a lot of processed sugars and has a lot more uses.
There are quite a few health benefits that come with replacing your daily processed sugar intake with maple syrup. Maple syrup is less processed than sugar, thus it is easier for your body to digest. Since it is sweeter than processed sugar, you tend to use less of it when replacing sugar in a recipe. Maple syrup also contains several minerals in it including calcium, manganese, vitamin B, potassium and zinc. Another benefit of using maple syrup instead of sugar: It contains antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Normally, the maple syrup you purchase in stores is made from Sugar maple sap. This is because it produces the sweetest sap, it has a longer harvesting season because of the Midwestern region it grows in, and it is one of the easier maple trees to harvest sap. If you have ever wanted to try harvesting your own maple sap to make syrup, Sugar maples are not the only maples trees you can harvest from. Below there is a list of some of the best maple trees to harvest sap from, each with their own unique taste and harvesting regions.
- Big Leaf Maple
- Big Leaf Maples grow in the western part of the U.S.
- It produces more of a vanilla flavor than maple syrup found in stores
- Red Maple
- Red Maples can often be found in the eastern and central parts of the U.S.
- It has a dark caramel taste to it
- Boxelder Maple
- Boxelder Maples are found all over the U.S.
- It has a butterscotch taste to it
- Silver Maple
- Grows in the eastern part of the U.S.
- Its syrup has the same taste as the syrup from a Sugar maple, but has a thinner and watered-down sap which in turn makes a thinner and watered-down syrup
Harvesting maple sap to make syrup has its own ups and downs like everything else. It is possible and not too hard to do if you have the time and resources to try. Unfortunately, you can only harvest maple syrup during one season of the year. There needs to be a freeze at night for the maple trees to produce any sap, and if the trees start to bud then that means the harvesting season is over. If the harvesting conditions are not met, then the maple trees will produce a milky sap that smells bad, but if done correctly, then you will have what looks like rainwater! After harvesting the sap, you either need to freeze it or boil it down right away or it will go bad, kind of like how you can spoil milk. The amount of syrup you will get during harvesting season will be about 1/40 the volume of the sap you harvest. If this does not deter you from trying to produce your own maple syrup, then here is all you need to try:
- Plastic tubing
- A pot to boil the sap down in
Thanks for reading~