Homemade maple syrup. Possible, but it takes a lot of effort.

Maple syrup

Maple syrup is a very well-known sweetener, especially popular in Canada and the US, but people all over the world, including Central Europe, have learned to like it and use it. Many Indian tribes knew how to get the sweet sap from the tree and use it to their benefit. When the “pale faces” came they soon learned that too, and having better tools, they managed to harvest more juice. More than they needed and that’s how maple syrup has become a commodity and the trade has begun.

Maple trees are different

Maple syrup is not made from all maple trees. For example, the sugar maple (Acer saccharum) is the best tree for collecting sap from which the real stuff is made. The Canadian flag depicts maple tree… There are other maple trees that are used to make maple syrup such as the red maple (Acer rubrum) and black maple (Acer nigrum) but the silver maple, which is often confused the sugar maple, is not suitable for sap collection.

Maple syrup

Photo: Pixabay

Grow a sugar maple at home

Yes, you can grow sugar maple in Central Europe. The tree can reach a height of 10 to 15 m. At first, it seems to grow very slowly, but don’t worry – it will grow faster over time. It is an undemanding tree and you only have to take care of it when it is young.For example, you need to protect it from wild animals that can bite it and destroy it, but also from droughts. A tree that grows in a sunny location will produce well, but the tree will grow in shade too. Soil should contain enough nutrients and should contain clay. Other than that, the sugar maple is very tolerant; it will grow even under less than ideal conditions – but slower.

Maple sap collection

The sap is collected at the very beginning of spring, when the tree wakes up from the “winter sleep” and that is at the beginning of March, when the temperatures is above zero during the day but it is still freezing at night. It is precisely during this time the tree draws water from the ground and contains the largest amount of sweet sap. Collecting sap is not difficult, but making maple syrup is. The problem is that maple syrup must contain 67% of carbohydrates. You will need to evaporate a lot of water before you can achieve this result. This means that for 1 litre of maple syrup, you will need around 35 to 40 litres of sap.

How much sap can you get?

When the tree is 30 years old it reaches its full potential and can produce 150 litres of sap per year (but usually no more than 50 litres per year is collected to avoid weakening). Nevertheless, you can start collecting your first sap when the tree is ten years old. Sap may be collected from cut branches or the trunk, but collecting sap from the trunk is more invasive, but you get more sap. To do so, drill a hole 6 cm deep and stick a hollow metal or plastic tube inside. A mature maple tree can handle two holes.

Preview photo: Pixabay

Radek Štěpán

Gardening is my hobby, I have a lot of experience and I am happy to share it.


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