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View Full Version : Does it Have to be MAPLE Syrup?


HeyHomie
03-08-2001, 08:53 AM
OK, I freely admit that my knowledge of horticulture is lacking, as is my knowledge of syrup production.

But if I understand correctly, maple syrup is made from the sap of the maple tree. Further, I understand that most, if not all trees produce sap. So why not cedar syrup? Oak syrup? Palm syrup? Dogwood syrup? ect.?

Has someone tried this and found the results too disgusting for words? Or is there a market out there just waiting for me to conquer it?

Telemark
03-08-2001, 09:14 AM
I do know that in certain areas they do (used to?) produce birch syrup. I suspect the main reason is sugar content and taste.

The maple syrup industry is an offshoot of the maple sugar industry, which was established before the young US had access to the sugar from cane and beets. Maple sugar was refined enough to eliminate the maple flavor, it just tasted like normal sugar. Now, they keep the maple sugar flavor in because otherwise there would be no reason to buy maple sugar.

Triskadecamus
03-08-2001, 10:39 AM
You could get syrup from other types of trees. You won't though. You won't even get it from other types of maple trees than the sugar maple tree. The reason is that after trying to boil down the sap from any other tree you will decide it isnít worth it.

The sugar maple tree happens to have the most sugar content in its sap by a very large margin. Sycamore trees occasionally have a fairly high level of sugar, but they vary a lot, and also have a flavor most people don't like. Silver maple trees and other maple types are not used in the commercial industry, because of their low sugar content. Individual farmers sometimes use them, if they happen to grow near sugar maples.

Maple sugar making is both fuel, and labor intensive. While it is likely that other maple types have been used in some times and places, the clear choice is the Sugar Maple. High sugar content, mild flavor, and a rapid growth rate make it a clear choice. Even tasting the raw sap will show you the difference. Oak sap, by the way has tannin in fairly large amounts, and tastes nasty.

Duck Duck Goose
03-08-2001, 10:54 AM
Sugar maple sap is from 2% to 3% sugar.
http://www.ag.ohio-state.edu/~ohioline/b856/b856_10.html
Sugar and black maple are particularly attractive as sugartrees because of their high sap sugar content and the late date at which they begin growth in the spring. Sugar and black maple have the highest sap sugar content of any of the native maples. While the exact sap sugar content of a tree will vary depending on many factors including genetics, site and weather, sugar and black maples generally average between 2.0 and 2.5 percent sap sugar content. It is not unusual to find many trees in a sugarbush well in excess of 3 percent, and occasionally higher.

However, you can use other maple trees.
It is important to emphasize that good, high-quality maple syrup can be made from red maple sap. However, for sugaring, red maple does have three important weaknesses. First, the sap sugar content of red maple will be less, on the average, than that of nearby comparable sugar or black maples, perhaps by 1/2 percent or more. This lower sap sugar content translates to higher costs of production and lower profits. Secondly, red maple begins growth in the spring before sugar and black maples, resulting in a shorter collecting season. In addition, when the sap of some red maples is processed, an excessive amount of sugar sand is produced. Sugar sand or niter is the salt that precipitates during the evaporation process. Sugar sand can cause several problems during the production process.
When compared to sugar, black and red maple, silver maple is a distinctly fourth choice for sugaring for several reasons. First, its sugar content is usually lower than red maple's, perhaps as much as 1/2 percent or more, which means even higher production costs and lower profits. Second, like red maple, it begins growth in the spring, earlier than sugar and black maple, resulting in a shorter collecting season. Third, like red maple, the evaporation of sap from some silver maples produces an excessive amount of sugar sand.
Birch sap is about 1% sugar.
http://www.gi.alaska.edu/ScienceForum/ASF4/467.html

http://www.forest-resources.umaine.edu/sugarhouse/
Why do we tap Maple trees? Unpublished research indicates that birch, beech, cherry, apple, elm, willow, poplar spruce, and hemlock all have sap flows. However, none of these have enough sugar content in their sap.

The Indians and maple sugar.
http://employees.csbsju.edu/ssaupe/biol327/maple-sap.htm
Under the appropriate conditions, sap will readily flow from a wound in the xylem of sugar maple trees. To collect the sap, Native Americans used to simply chop into the trunk with an axe (Swain, 1981p; Cleveland, 1987).
They, too, made maple sugar, not syrup. It's easier to store and transport.
http://www.massmaple.org/history.html

P.S. Sugar pines. The "also ran". :)
http://biology.fullerton.edu/courses/biol_445/web/sugar.htm
Sugar pine was 'discovered' by David Douglas of Douglas-fir fame. The name of the tree is derived from the sweet resinous substance that is found within the bark and wood. John Muir is said to have preferred the sap from sugar pine over that of maples (Schoenherr 1992).

yabob
03-08-2001, 11:09 AM
Black maple is also used. Black and sugar maple look similar, and occur in similar ranges.

http://www.dnr.cornell.edu/ext/maple/Res_Ext_Pub/Online%20Pubs/maple_syrup_production_for_the_b.htm has some good background, and mentions:

Most syrup producers treat the black and sugar maple as one species (Figure 1).

It also mentions that red maple is sometimes used, but is not as desirable as the other two.

I grew up in an area where the stuff was made every spring, mostly in small batches for private use. Like has been said, a LOT of work. I don't think most people looked beyond "large maple tree" before tapping it.

Zenster
03-08-2001, 01:57 PM
Let us not forget that mastic, a gum or resin exuded from the bark of Pistacia lentiscuc is used in making both asphalt and Turkish or Greek liquor.

Mmmmmmm... asphalt flavored booze!

There is also a mastic flavored chewing gum. Suffice to say that it eliminates any other odor from your breath. The only problem is eliminating the mastic flavor from your mouth without waiting for the entire oral cavity's cell lining to die off first.

Little Nemo
03-08-2001, 02:00 PM
Let me emphasize the point others have made; making maple syrup is a lot of work. My father makes syrup and when I was a Littler Nemo, I (along with my brother) spend hundreds of hours hauling buckets of sap from the woods and boiling sap down to syrup. It takes forty quarts of sap to make one quart of syrup and you have to keep the whole thing cooking until the other thirty nine quarts are boiled away.

As for oak syrup, my cousins in a fit of botanical confusion once tried to boil oak sap down to syrup. What happens is you boil away all the water and are left with essentially nothing except a sticky pan.

bibliophage
03-08-2001, 02:42 PM
Once while killing time in a library, I came across a book about trees that said in Norway they used to tap willow trees for the sap. IIRC, they made it into a beverage like birch beer (which is made from birch sap). Perhaps flodnak would know more about it.

City Gent
03-08-2001, 08:41 PM
Originally posted by Duck Duck Goose
John Muir is said to have preferred the sap from sugar pine over that of maples (Schoenherr 1992).
[/B]

Well la-dee-frickin-da for John Muir.

Doug Bowe
03-08-2001, 09:03 PM
Originally posted by bibliophage
Once while killing time in a library, I came across a book about trees that said in Norway they used to tap willow trees for the sap. IIRC, they made it into a beverage like birch beer (which is made from birch sap). Perhaps flodnak would know more about it.


--Now that would be interesting. Beer with the aspirin already in it!

Captain Amazing
03-08-2001, 09:11 PM
Originally posted by City Gent
Originally posted by Duck Duck Goose
John Muir is said to have preferred the sap from sugar pine over that of maples (Schoenherr 1992).


Well la-dee-frickin-da for John Muir. [/B]

Why does that line amuse me so much?

Doobieous
03-08-2001, 10:18 PM
Originally posted by rastahomie
Further, I understand that most, if not all trees produce sap. So why not cedar syrup? Oak syrup? Palm syrup?

Ahh another post mentioning palms :)

You CAN tap palms for sap, but, you do it in a different manner than a maple. Sap is collected usually by cutting off the flower stalk, but in some palms like Borassus, or Cocos (coconut), the flowers are bound tightly, and the tip of the inflorescence cut off for 8 successive days, after which sap will flow for 4 - 6 months.

I suppose you could boil it down to syrup, but usually where palm sap is collected, it's boiled down to molasses, or if boiled further, it begins to crystalize, and you get palm sugar.

It takes 10 liters of sap to get 1.5 kg of sugar. The sugar content of palm sap varies, but can be up to about 16%. Borassus palms usually yeild up to 4 liters of sap a day.

Palms used for sugar production:

Cocos nucifera - Coconut. Sap is usually used for making palm beer and liquor.

Jubaea chilensis - Chilean wine palm: Sap is usually made into wine, BUT, you can get what's called "palm honey" which would be analagous to maple syrup.....however, to get it you have to cut the tree down, which doesnt make for a good market.

Arenga pinnata - Sugar palm: high content of sugar in sap

Caryota urens - Fishtail palm: Said to have the best tasting sap. Inflorecences can make up to 50 liters(13 gallons) of sap a day!

Nypa fruticans - Nipa Palm: Usually forms large colonies, one estimate suggests for one hectare of these palms, 350,000 liters (91,000 gallons) could be obtained. Sap is very sweet and syrupy.

The palms talked about above are all tropical (except jubaea). The next three are more temperate:

Phoenix canariensis - extremely common in California (it's the very full crowned regal looking palms), this can also be tapped

P. dactylifera - Date Palm: sap can be obtained from the flowers, but usually considered a waste. Male flowers and poor cultivars can be used, however.

P. reclinata - same as the above two.

The reason for such high quantities of sap is that many of these palms grow in moist places, (the nipa is a mangrove palm). Palms typically require a lot of water. Even desert palms only grow where a ready source of ground water is available.

I dont know why people dont think about using the sap to make syrups (commercially at least)......perhaps because most are tropical, and also it's a little more work to get the sap (inflorescences always at the top of the tree, the trees have to be nature enough to flower, etc). However, the more tropical palms are common enough that sugar beets and sugar cane arent needed to supply south east asia with sources of sugar.

Qadgop the Mercotan
03-08-2001, 10:32 PM
I tried birch syrup once, even bought a little bottle in Ketchikan, Alaska. It was sweet, alright, but had an odd aftertase that I could only relate to the smell of fresh split wood. Not real appetizing