Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/Nature/Maple Sugar

Maple Sugar
General Conference
See also Maple Sugar - Advanced
Skill Level 1
Year of Introduction: 1989

1. What part of the world and time of year does the maple sugar industry function and why? edit

Northeastern United States and eastern Canada. This is where the maple trees that produce sugar grow and where the weather gets cold enough to produce a good flow of sap when there are warm days with the temperature above freezing and nights with the temperature below. This occurs most often in winter and early spring.

2. Explain how sweet sap is made by the Maple tree and how it is stored over the winter. edit

Each fall the tree produces its own supply of starch which it stores in its root system during the winter season. In the spring the roots begin to take up water, mixing it with the starch to create sap. The sap rises up the trunk and is distributed to the branches to prepare the tree for the growing season.

3. Identify the Sugar Maple tree by its bark and leaf. edit

Acer saccharum - Sugar Maple leaf
Maple bark, and a tap and syrup bucket

The leaves are the easiest way to identify a maple tree so it is easiest to pick out the trees you are going to tap before they lose their leaves in the fall. The bark of the sugar maple is usually dark brown with vertical grooves and ridges. The easiest way to pick out maple trees without their leaves is to look for a tree that has its branches and buds in opposite position (that is in pairs on opposite sides of a branch) rather than alternate. Four native maples - sugar maple, silver maple, red maple, and black maple - all produce a sweet sap; as does the box elder (ash leaf maple). The Norway maple, a common introduced ornamental in towns, also produces sweet sap.

4. How deep into a Maple tree does one drill for best results? edit

The holes should be drilled about 2 1/2 inches deep including the thick bark. It should be about 7/16 or 1/2 inch in diameter and should be drilled upward at a slight angle so the sap won’t pool in the hole.

The diameter of the hole really ought to be matched to the size of the tap. Taps are tapered, so the hole diameter should fall somewhere between the smaller and larger ends of the tap. If the hole diameter is too large, the tap may fall out of the hole. This is especially true if a bucket is suspended from the tap (some are designed for that). In this case, the more sap that flows into the bucket, the heavier it gets, making it even more likely that the tap will pull out. For insurance, you might consider tying a rope around the tree, catching (and thus securing) the tap.

5. How long does it take for a healthy Maple tree tap's hole to heal? edit

It heals within a few weeks after the sap season.

6. How close to an old tap hole can a new tap hole be made? edit

Two to three inches.

7. How many taps can be made on a healthy Maple tree without injuring it? edit

a. 10 inch (25.4 cm) diameter tree edit

none on trees less than 10 inches. One if at least 10 inches.

b. 12 inch (30.5 cm) diameter tree edit

one tap on trees 10 to 18 inches.

c. 24 inch (61.0 cm) diameter tree edit

two taps on trees 18 to 28 inches.

d. 36 inch (91.4 cm) diameter tree edit

three taps on trees over 28”.

8. Tell how maple sugar is made from maple syrup. edit

Maple syrup is ready when the boiling temperature reaches about 7 degrees above boiling point of water (e.g. 218o F. in Michigan). If you continue boiling until the temperature reaches 30 to 33 degrees F. above the boiling point of water(e.g. 241 to 244o F. in Michigan) and then stir the syrup vigorously it will start to crystallize. At this point you put it into whatever molds or containers you wish before it hardens too much in the pan.

9. What is the ideal weather for sap to flow? edit

Warm sunny days above freezing and cold nights below freezing.

10. Does a Maple tree crown (limb & leaf area) affect the sap flow and sweetness? edit

A full well-proportioned tree in the summer will be a more healthy tree and will produce a better quality and quantity of sap the next spring.

11. On an average, how much sap is needed to produce one gallon of syrup? edit

30 to 40 gallons.

12. Taste pure maple syrup or maple sugar. edit

Yummmm! Very sweet!

13. Observe and explain what the following maple sugaring equipment is used for edit

a. Drill edit

to hold the bit that makes the hole in the tree.

b. Bit edit

use a 7/16 or 1/2 inch bit to make the hole.

c. Spigot edit

inserted into tap hole (may be made of 1/2 inch dowel with a hole drilled in it). Used to hang bucket.

d. Bucket edit

to collect sap (plastic milk jug, etc.)

e. Bucket cover edit

to keep out rain and foreign material. Rain would dilute the sap and require more boiling.

f. Evaporator edit

used to boil sap so the excess water in the sap is driven off leaving the maple syrup or sugar.

References edit