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Maple Sugar

Native Americans were the first to discover that sap from the maple tree tastes sweet. They collected the sap to drink, marinate their meat, and boil down to crystallized maple sugar. They did not make maple syrup because it was difficult to store but they were able to use the crystallized sugar all year long. Early European settlers who arrived in New England learned this process from the Native Americans. Thomas Jefferson, our third president, enjoyed maple sugar so much that he planted a grove of sugar maples at Monticello, his home in Virginia.

Sugaring Weather
In New Jersey, maple sap begins to flow in early February when the nights fall below freezing and the days warm to above freezing. During this time you may also see icicles, a sign of sugaring weather. Generally, the season lasts three to four weeks followed by spring.

Sugar Content
You can make syrup from the sap of any maple tree, but sugar maple Acer saccharum produces sap with the greatest sugar content—up to 2%. Other maple trees have 1% or less of sugar. The sap is boiled in an evaporator, a special stove used for making maple syrup. The syrup is done when the sugar content is 67%.

Five Steps to Syrup


1. Tap a maple tree that is at least 10” in diameter. Tap on the sunny south side of the tree.
2. Hang a bucket by hammering a spile with an attached hook into the hole.
3. Collect the sap as soon as possible so it can be processed before it spoils.
4. Boil sap until it is reduced from 2% sugar and 98% water to 67% sugar and 33% water.
5. Bottle and enjoy the finished syrup.


Grade A Light Amber
Flavor: mild, most delicate maple flavor
Time: made earlier in the season when the weather is colder
Use: maple candy and maple cream

Grade A Medium Amber
Flavor: easily discernible maple flavor
Time: made after the sugaring season begins to warm
Use: most popular grade of table syrup

Grade A Dark Amber
Flavor: strong maple flavor
Time: made later in the season as the days get longer and warmer
Use: table and baking

Grade B
Flavor: strong maple and caramel flavor
Time: last syrup made in the season
Use: baking


Maple Syrup Grades
The grading system for syrup was established by the USDA based on color.

Syrup grades