Lee Valley Tools Gardening Newsletter
Vol. 3, Issue 1
February 2008
Interesting Reads

Excerpt from American Agriculturalist, Vol. XXIII-No. 2, February 1864.

  Maple Sugar Making  
  Maple sugar  
  The sap of the Sugar or Rock Maple when it first flows in the spring, is to appearance nearly as clear and liquid as pure water, and in reality it contains scarcely anything but cane sugar. The sugar is more easily obtained in a marketable state than from the juices of any other plant yielding sugar for commerce. If the sap be pure and clear as it flows from the tree, it is only necessary to boil it down in clean vessels, taking care not to burn it, and when sufficiently concentrated, to preserve it as molasses, or after boiling more, to pour it into moulds. It is so easily and cheaply produced that sugar makers have been very careless about it, using utensils of the rudest character. The amount of uncrystallizable sugar or molasses necessarily produced is very small, but as the molasses is quite as much valued as sugar in most markets, this has led to some neglect of the sap, and deteriorated the character of both sugar and molasses.  
  Let the first fact stated above, be fixed in the mind, viz., that pure sap yields nearly pure sugar, and that the coloring, the quality, and much of the labor of sugar making, result from foreign substances that get into the sap while in the troughs, etc. Remember further, that in the absence of these foreign materials the amount of crystallized sugar obtained will be much greater. We see then, the importance of securing the greatest possible cleanliness, in everything connected with collecting and manufacturing the sap. Exposure to the air produces fermentation, and diminishes the crystallized sugar rapidly; therefore, covered vessels, and boiling as fast as the sap flows, are important. Fermentation of the sap also injures the peculiar "maple flavor" which is so greatly relished. The quality of the sap, that is the amount of sugar to the barrel of sap, varies considerably from year to year, but we know of no accurate experiments touching it, nor to determine the character of other substances present in the sap.  
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