Adirondack Maple Traditions

Spring is the time when sap flows again in maple trees. The Wild Center's Community Maple Project brings people back into the woods in the earliest spring days, and plays an active part ignititing a maple renaissance across the Adirondacks.

Want your own taste of maple?  Visit The Wild Supply Co. "Maple Products" section and order today!

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Your Stories About Maplek

Maple represents something different for everyone. For some its nostalgia, or a fun hobby, a way to learn, or a livelihood. 

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Making Maplek

Many methods can be used to make maple syrup, but each way makes the same sweet product.

What is the Community Maple Project?

Dave St. Onge, Facilities Manager and Sugarmaker Master, talks about the uniqueness of the Community Maple Project. 

The taste of maple at home!

Visit The Wild Supply Co. store and order pure Adirondack maple syrup today!  Available in 8 & 16oz. bottles.  Packaged right here at The Wild Center.  Don't miss the other items available in the store.

The Wild Supply Co. Maple Products

Community Maple

In 2011, The Wild Center piloted a successful Community Maple Project and maple education program. The community project engaged 22 families plus the local elementary school in backyard tapping and maple production at The Wild Center. The project continues to grow and transform. In 2015, 80 families in the Tupper Lake community participated as well as the local elementary school, tapping around 800 trees. The Wild Center has a full operational sugar shack that fills the air with maple each spring. Stop by for a fresh taste during the sugaring season, typically in March and April. 

Maple Grades

Shifting temperatures means a change in grade

The maple sugaring season usually lasts about 4-6 weeks. The weather and trees determine how long it lasts. Bacteria, (99% of the DNA in you, BTW) can't survive when it's cold, but in warmer temperatures it thrives in sugary sap. Cold weather produces light syrup and warm temperatures and the ensuing bacteria produces darker syrup, boiled (to death) during the processing. The sap isn't as sweet at the end of the season. The trees, as they get ready to bloom, take more of the sugar to leaf. 

Grading kits, based on color, help producers grade syrup. One empty bottle is filled with the syrup that needs to pass its grade. Three bottles filled with liquid, colored for each grade, are used as the score card.  

Insider Secrets to Sugaring

Untapping the Profit Potential

Josh Parker, of Parker Maple Farm, participated in Maple Boot Camp in 2013. With his entrepreneurial spirit and a few taps, he began his own business. Find out more in this Fox News clip. 

Maple Sugaring in Tupper Lake

The Wild Center Maple Project is just the newest part in the history of maple sugaring near our site. In the early 1900's, Tupper Lake was a major producer of maple syrup.  

Abbot Augustus Low was the man behind the sap. An entrepreneur and inventor from Brooklyn who owned the Horseshoe Forestry Company, his business enterprises included spring water production, wild berry preserves, and maple syrup. His large maple sugaring operation was one of the first to have a tubing system with metal pipes and troughs that used gravity instead of pails to collect sap. His property around Lows Lake included a blacksmith shop, an energy generating plant, a stable, an engine house, storehouses and maple sugaring buildings.

At peak production in 1907, Low’s operation produced 20,000 gallons of syrup.

At the time of his death in 1912, he was second only to Thomas Edison for the number of patents held by a single person, for things like a motor, exhaust sytem, igniter, bottle design and a means of preserving maple sugar. He invented a square glass bottle to ship spring water to New York City. The square bottle allowed for easier packing in a box. The bottles could then be returned and reused.

 

Click here to view historic photos of A.A. Low's operation

Problems in the Sugar House

Where does your maple come from?

Maple syrup sells for so much there's a black market. Street value can be as high as $120 a gallon. 

New York State currently taps less than 1 percent of the state’s nearly 300 million maple trees, and that means a net outflow of cash. The state imports four times as much maple syrup as it produces.  

Michael Farrell, Director of The Uihlein Forest for Cornell University, a big test maple operation in North Elba, says that only 0.4% of all potentially tappable maple trees are used for syrup production in Franklin County where The Wild Center is based. If New York State were to increase its utilization to Vermont’s level of 2.94 percent, the potential economic impact of farm sales (not counting indirect impacts such as sugarhouse construction and value-added processing) could be more than $60 million annually. 

For Franklin County, Farrell estimates that if residents and visitors made and consumed more locally-produced syrup (in the same way Vermont does), the economic impact of the maple industry would rise from roughly $300,000 to more than $4,000,000 annually.

What else can you do with sap?

Sap is an all-natural beverage with just a hint of sweetness. Early in the season you can drink the sap fresh from the tree, perhaps filtering out the bugs first! Maple sap is packed with minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, and zinc.

If it’s a cold day and you want a warm beverage, heat it up and steep your tea in some hot sap. Another way to add a little sweetness to your day is to replace water with sap when making your coffee in the morning.

South Koreans have been drinking maple sap for centuries

Why does your syrup taste better?

How is the sugar content measured?

A digital refractometer measures the percent of sugar content in sap and syrup. 

The refractometer essentially measures the ratio of sugar to water in a sample and gives a percentage value.

Another way to measure sugar content is using a hydrometer to measure the degrees Brix.

How is sap flowing through my tree?

In winter, the maple trees are dormant and do not have sap flowing through them. In the summer, sap is flowing throughout the tree as the leaves are making sugar through photosynthesis. In the spring, the snow is melting and ground water becomes readily available to the roots. Your tree now has to get all that water from the soil to the tips of its branches so it can start growing. That could be a height of 100 feet!

Inside the tree are lots of tiny conductor cells within the sapwood. Negative pressure is created inside the sapwood cells when we have below freezing temperatures. The negative pressure creates a vacuum, sucking up water and nutrients. 

When the temperature is above freezing, positive pressure forms inside the tree and pushes the sap out your tap and into your bucket.

Click here for a more detailed description of how sap flows through maple trees.

What is one of your first memories in a sugar house?

Maple Money

Maple sugar is the local healthy sweetener for the Adirondacks. Increasing production and consumption of maple products can create sustainable economic growth. Per capita maple consumption has been on the rise for the last 36 years according to a 2012 paper Assessing the Growth Potential and Economic Impact of the U.S. Maple Syrup Industry.

The results of this research determined that New York State has the greatest potential to increase local production and consumption of pure maple syrup to take advantage of the growing demand for local, healthy, and organic food.

Maple FAQ

Have questions about maple sugaring? Take a look at our Maple FAQ where you will find answers to several common questions.