Thursday, April 01, 2010

It's the season for urban maple tapping!

It's maple syrup season around this part of Ontario (has been for a few weeks, and in fact is almost over by now). A nearby town, Elmira, held it's annual maple syrup festival last weekend, and the thousands of visitors that flooded the town to take part in tours of sugar shacks and a free pancake breakfast definitely signifiy how much maple syrup is part of our national psyche - a Canadian trademark, the flowing sap announcing spring and allowing us to celebrate a short, sweet, almost sacred harvest from our iconic maple trees.

And, across the country urban foragers are also tapping into this wonderful syrup bounty - with urban maple tapping (as well as other trees, such as birch or black walnut) becoming increasingly common in urban neighbourhoods. Exciting - though not a job to take lightly! Tapping trees takes patience and diligence, not to mention the nearly 24 hour vigil of boiling down the sap on a fire into beautiful amber-golden syrup. This makes for a great community effort as there is plenty of time for socializing as you boil down the sap or check your neighbourhood taps each day. As it takes aproximately 40 gallons of sugar maple sap to produce 1 gallon of syrup, each precious teaspoonful should be carefully reverently savoured.

Urban maple tapping projects are going on in many cities across North America. Brooklyn boasts it's own "made in Brooklyn maple syrup". In Winnipeg not only sugar maples are tapped, but also Manitoba maples, birch trees and black walnuts for a delectable combination syrup. Not Farm From the Tree, a non-profit organization in Toronto, sells "I'd tap that - syrup in the city" t-shirts and coordinates groups of volunteers to help with tapping across the city. They largely tap Norway maples, which, although producing a lower ratio of sap to syrup, are more hardy in the city than sugar maples.

More links for urban maple tapping projects - read these exciting stories:

I’d Tap That t-shirts (proceeds go to Not Far From the Tree)

1 comment:

  1. If you've got a maple tree in your backyard, you can get enough sap to have a breakfast - and the kids love it.

    We tapped our maple tree in our back yard in New Hamburg with 3 holes. (about 7/16 inches, about 1.5-2 inches deep, then tap the spigot in and hang the bucket). Bought all the materials we needed at a local TSC store. Collect the sap every couple of days. When we had a couple of gallons of sap, we threw it on the stove and let it simmer all day.

    Gave us enough syrup to have a family breakfast of waffles.

    I'm going to post pics on my blog at when I've got a moment :).