About Maple Syrup
is made from the sap of sugar maple and red maple trees.
- History of Maple Syrup in Kentucky
- Introduction to Maple Syrup
Native Americans made condensed maple sap into maple sugar long before the Europeans arrived. They did not make maple syrup for their pancakes and waffles instead they would evaporate all the moisture out of the sap yielding maple sugar. This was accomplished by collecting maple sap and storing it in a hollowed out log. They would allow the freezing nights to freeze the water, the sugar will not freeze. The ice would be broken and removed leaving behind a concentrated sap liquid. This would be repeated for several nights, then hot stones from a fire would be placed in the concentrated liquid until all that remained was the sugar.
The settlers would follow this practice using more modern methods of collecting the sap using hollow reeds as taps and collecting the sap using buckets. The sap was gathered and taken back to the sugar shack where the liquid was boiled over a fire in a cast iron kettle. According to US records more maple syrup was produced in the USA in 1862 then today!
In 1930 sugar was rationed, it was hard to get and expensive. Many rural Kentuckians made their own maple syrup and maple sugar in response to the difficult times using primitive, inefficient methods. Since then each generation wanted their children to have it easier than the previous. As a result we almost lost the fading memory of making sugar in Kentucky.
Today we are seeing a resurgence of maple syrup production in Kentucky. With modern technology, changing economic climate and an entrepreneurial spirit farmers are taking advantage of the numerous maple trees in Kentucky to supplement their income.
What is Maple Syrup?
Maple syrup is made from the sap of sugar maple trees and red maple trees. In Kentucky, maple sap tends to be 1-2 percent sugar. This percentage is measured in Brix. The water is evaporated out of the sap, most often over a wood fire, using special pans until until the sugar content is condensed to 66.5 Brix (percent). The boiling of the sap over the heat causes the sugars to caramelize into a golden brown color. Nothing is added to pure maple syrup, it is simply pure tree sap boiled down to the correct sugar content.
How Much Maple Sap Does it Take to Make a Gallon of Maple Syrup?
It really depends on the sugar content of the maple sap. The sugar content can vary tree to tree and season to season. If the sap measures 2 Brix or 2 percent sugar then it takes 43 gallons of sap to make a gallon of maple syrup. While Kentucky producers can see sap measuring 2 Brix we often experience a lower sugar content. If the sap measures 1 Brix then it will take 86 gallons of sap to produce a gallon of maple syrup.