Maple sap is a very complex combination of water, sugar, minerals, anti-oxidants, and vitamins
The content of sugar in sap averages 2.0 brix coming out of the tree and needs to reach 66 brix before it can be called maple syrup.
The sugar content in the sap during the beginning and end of the sugaring season is in the 1.5-2.0 range. During the middle of the season sugar content reaches its greatest height averaging about 2.5 brix and higher.
It takes approximately 40 liters of sap to make 1 liter of syrup. The amount of sap needed is dependant on the sugar content of the sap. The lower the sugar content the more sap is required to boil down to produce the 1 liter of syrup. Conversely if the sugar content is high then less sap is required to make the same 1 liter of syrup.
“May your sap run strong and sweet” is a common “good luck” saying between sugarmakers.
The principle of boiling sap to remove excess water has not changed for hundreds of years, only the equipment to do so has.
Maple sap begins to degenerate as soon as it leaves the tree on its journey to the sugarhouse. Keeping the sap cool once it arrives in the sugarhouse and processing the sap quickly greatly improves ones chances of producing high quality delicious tasting maple syrup.
First Nations people would leave their year-round settlements and travel to the “sugarbushs” to set up their “sugarcamps” for the period of the “maple moon”. Both the words sugarbush and sugarcamp are still commonly used today especially in maple sugaring circles.
Cold nights (-5c) and warm sunny days (+5c) are ideal for sap to flow. Changes in barometric pressure such as when a new weather system approaches will also cause sap to flow.
The more leaves on a maple trees crown the sweeter the sap. It’s more important to have more leaves per acre than more trees per acre to improve ones production.
Roadside maples with huge crowns can have as many as 20,000 leaves. These trees are sometimes referred to as “sweet trees”.