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 scorecard.

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 system, 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.