This year, as the sap is beginning to flow, I find myself reflecting on the sweet wonder that is maple syrup. I don’t know about you, but I love maple syrup. I’ll use it almost any chance I get for a natural dose of sweetness that I know is relatively free from processing (compared to white sugar and others).
If you feel the same way, then you might be interested in this article by Joshua E. Brown about the new sap-gathering technique being pioneered by University of Vermont researchers. According to Brown, the researchers’ “new technique uses tightly spaced plantations of chest-high sugar-maple saplings. These could be single stems with a portion — or all — of the crown removed. Or they could be multiple-stemmed maples, where one stem per tree can be cut each year. Either way, the cut stem is covered with a sealed plastic bag. Under the bag, the sap flows out of the stump under vacuum pressure and into a tube. Voilà, huge quantities of sap.”
It’s too early to say whether this will become the primary method for gathering sap in the future, but don’t be surprised if you see fields of small sugar maples sprouting up on a farm near you.
And don’t forget, you can tap maples to make your own syrup. If it’s something you’d like to try, check out this guide produced by the University of Maine System. It’s packed with information that you can utilize to determine which trees to tap, how much sap you’ll be able to harvest, and even how many taps to use per tree.
Have a sweet spring!