The Great Big Leaf Maple Syrup Experiment

by Cate Moore on January 13, 2014

I am an inveterate reader of just about anything that lands in front of me, and I stumble across the most interesting tidbits from the oddest sources.  This year, Anchor Brewing Company released their Big Leaf Maple Autumn Red Ale wherein I read that they used Bigleaf Maple sap in the brewing and also related that Bigleaf Maples produce a “delicious syrup”.

Whoa!  You mean we can make syrup out of our own local maples?  I’ve been participating in the local forestry community for over twenty years, and I’ve never heard this mentioned.  It was obviously time for a little research.  I jumped onto the internet and discovered that California is way behind the curve.  Oregon, Washington and British Columbia have been doing it for years and they have published articles about Big Leaf Maple sugaring specifically.

In my mind, this calls for a California feasibility experiment.  We have Bigleaf Maples on our land, concentrated along our watercourses, so we gathered up the available information, ordered a starter kit of spiles, a book called “Backyard Sugarin’ ” and will embark on an experiment to see how much sap we can gather, determine the best way to store sap prior to a sugaring since we don’t have the east coast’s convenient outdoor winter refrigerator, and see if we come out the other end with anything resembling a tasty maple syrup.

Of course, we have managed to pick the absolute worst year in decades to try out gathering maple sap, so we won’t be surprised if our results are less than impressive.   We’ll be posting our progress on the website.

In the meantime, check out the following for data on Bigleaf Maple syrup.  If you are inspired enough to try it yourself, let is know how it went for you.

Maple sirup production from big leaf maple

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