Maple Sugaring Season

You know that spring is just around the corner when you see the sap buckets hanging on the maple trees.  The fields and trees are still brown and bare, but the air is getting warmer. In late February and early March there is a very short season when the temperatures are above freezing in the daytime and below freezing at night. That is when the sugar sap starts flowing; it is harvest time in the maple groves of the northeastern United States.  

I love driving along the country roads and looking into the woods and seeing the sap buckets hanging on the trees.  Some of the very large trees have two, three, or even four buckets hanging on them.

On the warm days (above freezing), pressure builds up inside the trees, forcing the sap to rise from the roots up through the trunk.  At night when the temperatures drop below freezing again, the sap runs back down through the tree.  When a tree is tapped, some of the sap runs out and is collected in containers.  The season is short (about six weeks), because once the temperatures stay above freezing, the flow is greatly reduced.  It's amazing, though, that in a season one tap can produce anywhere from 10 to 20 gallons of sap.

The sap in maple trees (particularly sugar maples), has a higher concentration of sugar compared to the sap of other trees. Tapping maple trees and using the sap to make maple syrup has been going on for centuries.  Early settlers learned how from the Native Americans. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. That is because the sap is mostly water which has to be boiled off.  There is a large maple syrup industry in New England, but it is not unusual to find local sugar shacks or backyard configurations throughout the northeast.  This is the Maple Sugar Shack at Camp Lutherlyn in our area.

The maple sap that is collected in the local woods is pumped into large vats where the water is boiled off.  This process takes many hours and creates a lot of steam.

As the water evaporates, the sap is reduced to a thick syrup.

The amber color of the syrup ranges from light to dark.  The darker colors are made from sap tapped later in the season and have a stronger maple flavor than the lighter amber syrup that is produced from sap gathered earlier in the season.

I love pure maple syrup, and I love maple trees!  Season by season they perform their duties and live out the purpose for which God created them . . . budding and blooming with new life in spring . . . stretching out their arms to provide shade and shelter in summer . . . blazing with rich colors of red, orange and gold in fall . . .  turning starch into sweet flowing sap in the last days of winter. . .  All of their works give praise and glory to God.  The trees are clapping their hands!

"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands" (Isaiah 55:12).

Through every season of our lives God gives us a purpose too . . . His purpose! It is for this reason that He created us, saved us, and now calls us to love and serve Him and others. Do you see God's purpose in your life?  Does it give you joy to give Him glory?  Clap your hands!

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  1. You're welcome Jeanne. I'm so glad it was meaningful to you. Thanks for commenting, and God bless you. ~Katie

  2. We love maple season! We are in NY!!:) beautiful post! Thanks!

    1. I love maple season too! I just love seeing all the taps on the trees as we drive past the wooded areas! Thanks for commenting! ~Katie

  3. This was very informative. Nice to know how they do it.

    Love the shot of the sugar shack, piled high with snow.

    1. Thanks Linda. I love the sugar shack! I have a picture of it in the fall too, surrounded by colorful fall foliage -- so beautiful! Thanks for your nice comment. ~Katie

  4. What a blessing it must be to able to tap your own maple trees! That is just so neat! And the trees are so pretty too. :)

    Thank you for sharing.


  5. Thanks Janet. Maple trees really are special in my book. I grew up around them my whole life. They're so beautiful, and maple syrup is so, so good! Thanks for ocmmenting! ~Katie