Tap Into Tradition

Bucket attached to sugar maple tree

As cool winter nights give way to warm spring days, the full moon rises to usher in a season of sweet celebration. Some Indigenous Peoples call the spring full moon the Sugar or Maple Moon. Its arrival coincides with the flowing of tree sap and the production of maple syrup.

Harvesting sap to make syrup is a long-lived tradition. While it’s hard to pinpoint when the first maple was tapped, we know its syrup has been enjoyed in this region for a long time. Today, people around the world savour the distinct flavour of this natural sweetener partially thanks to Canada, which produces 85 per cent of the global supply.

Harvest your own

It takes at least 40 litres of sap to make one litre of syrup. But the efforts to tap and boil will seem worth it when you’re pouring your own over a hot plate of pancakes.

When: When nights are cold (below zero) and days are warm (above zero).

What: Sugar maples produce sap with high sugar content which makes them ideal. But black walnut, paper birch, and red and black maples also produce sap with different flavour profiles. Black walnut syrup is light and earthy, while paper birch is dark and acidic. Red and black maples produce saps that share a similar profile to the more traditional sugar maple syrup.

When tapping a tree other than a sugar maple, it takes more sap (up to three times more) and time to produce the same amount of syrup.

How: Cathy Entwhistle from Bronte Creek Provincial Park provides instructions on how to get started.

Did you know: Norway maples are invasive to Ontario and often confused with native sugar maples. Learn how to identify these look-a-likes and replace them with native maples instead.

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