Etsy Kitchen Histories: Maple Sugaring

maple_syrupA golden jar of my parent’s homemade maple syrup.

“It’s sugaring time, it’s sugaring time!’ My mom chriped.  “My heart always gets glad this time of year.  I think it don’t want to do it ‘it’s cold, it’s muddy’ but then I head out there and the sun is shining and the birds are singing fee-bee feeb-bee!”  That was the start of the most recent phone conversation I had with my mom.  Yeah, she’s pretty cute.

My latest post for Etsy is all about the maple sugaring season–an annual event that might be entirely foreign to you if you’re not from New England, the Midwest or Canada, where sugar maples grow.  My parents tap their backyard maples on their four acres in semi-rural Ohio.  You can read all about it here.

The cold, snowy spring has been ideal for sugaring–my parents have collected almost 100 gallons of sap this year already. But some interesting research has recently been done into historic “sugaring seasons.”  Here’s a bit of food for though that comes via The Farm at Miller’s Crossing:

I recently read an article by Tim Wilmot, a specialist with the University of Vermont Extension and Proctor Maple Research Center in Underhill VT, which put this discussion into some perspective.

The entire maple syrup industry depends on temperatures. Maple syrup producers can only harvest when the mercury goes below freezing at night, then above freezing during the day. This freeze/thaw event forces the sap in the trees to run, which can then be harvested by the taps drilled into the trees.

Recent discoveries of old records indicate that in 1870 a normal tapping in central Vermont season began on April 1, and ended on May 7.
Fast forward 60 years, and the average start date in 1930 was March 13, with an April 15 finish date.

Fast forward again to the spring of 2012, and most serious maple producers were tapping in early January and finishing in February or early March!  Last year we actually were in the high 80’s in March.

Read more about Maple Sugaring on Etsy.