Posts tagged ‘Acer’

Saps and Syrups in Minnesota

Maple Syrup

It’s time to start tapping the sugarbush when we start to have warm days (above freezing) paired with cold nights (below freezing). Tapping Maple trees (Acer spp.) is a great spring activity for individuals, families, and friends. The ratio of sap to syrup is determined by the rule of 86 (86 / % sugar in the sap), and is roughly 45:1. Small producers, those with only a few trees, can freeze sap until sufficient quantity has been collected for processing. Maple sap is most often processed by reducing the sap to syrup through boiling or, more recently, through reverse osmosis. The resulting Maple Syrup can be consumed, traded, or sold. In some cultures, the sap is consumed without processing as a medicinal tonic. Putting a new twist on the old, Wind Tree Winery in Cloquet, MN produces a Maple Syrup wine. Demand has exceeded supply in the last few years and prices look to be great this year.


Each year, University of MN Extension offers Maple Syrup Clinics in different locations throughout the state. For those unable to attend, Extension has produced several publications on Maple Syrup and there is a MN DNR video on the process. There is also the MN Maple Syrup Producers Association. Ohio State Extension’s Maple Syrup Producers’ Manual (see image below) is a comprehensive resource for producers.

Birch Syrup

When spring peepers hail the end of the Maple Syrup season, a few hardy producers switch gears and collect birch sap. Tapping birch trees is much like tapping maple, but the similarity ends there. While maple sap contains sucrose, the natural sugar in birch sap is fructose.  Birch sap, collected from Paper birch (Betula paperifyera) also contains several vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, potassium, manganese, and calcium. Native American Indians have long known of its medicinal benefits and there are many cultures that bottle the sap for a health drink. Alaska has several major producers that create a variety of birch products. On average, 100 gallons of birch sap are needed to make a gallon of birch syrup.The sap is processed differently, with boiling techniques that evaporate water and avoid burning the fructose.

Connoisseurs also tap yellow birch (B. alleghaniensis) in early spring, before the leaves unfurl.  While yellow birch bark is a known source for ‘Wintergreen Oil” the sap is sweet with a slight wintergreen taste that is boiled to create syrups and flavor beer and wine.  Yellow birch sap is known to have a sweet flavor, with very low sugar content. Stay tuned for a forthcoming post about our yellow birch tapping trial!

For more information on NTFPs:

March 20, 2009 at 12:01 am 3 comments

Drinking Maple

“One person’s trash is another person’s treasure” takes on a new meaning when applied to Minnesota’s abundant forest resources and diverse cultural traditions. When discussing Non Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) with landowners and forest resource users, I like to pose the question: “Do you really know what’s in your woods?” While this is not a case of trash versus treasure, it certainly puts a new twist on a familiar NTFP, Maple Syrup. In South Korea the maple tree is called Gorosoe.  This article from the New York Time’s International Herald Tribune details the South Korean custom of drinking Maple Sap (not syrup) to cleanse the body. Thirst is kept up with salty fish and snacks…I think we could manage that here! The sap sells for $6-7 per gallon!! Sounds like a sweet deal, pun intended, when you consider the fact that it takes roughly 45 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of Maple Syrup. (Maple Leaf photo, Jurveston, CC 2.0) maplestructure1

For more information on nontimber forest products (NTFPs):

March 9, 2009 at 11:31 am 2 comments

Minnesota’s northern hardwoods forest type

A brief overview of Minnesota’s northern hardwoods cover type: products & uses, growing conditions, regeneration, silviculture, and pests.

Continue Reading April 20, 2007 at 5:53 pm Leave a comment

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