Native Americans were the first people to harvest the sweet maple tree sap that is the raw form maple syrup. When Europeans arrived in North America, the natives taught the settlers about this sugary tree sap. From there the process of boiling off the water to produce a thick sugary syrup was invented, and the delicious liquid we love on pancakes and waffles was born.
The method for retrieving the maple sap has been largely unchanged in the past 300 years. Once you’ve identified a tree, drill a hole, insert the tap, and wait for your bucket to fill with the raw liquid. Once you’ve gathered quite a bit - maple syrup is mostly water, so you need a lot to make a little syrup - you boil it down until it is the thick brown stuff we love.
We are about a month into the maple sugaring season which ends in April. Many parks and environmental centers in our region are holding maple sugaring events and festivals to teach visitors about the ancient tradition of harvesting maple sap.
We’ve put together a list of some great destinations holding maple sugaring events in our region. All of these places are accessible from public transit, and if we keep this warm weather streak up, you may want to get out your bike and ride out to one of these great destinations!
Maple Sugar day is held at Forbidden Drive near Northwestern Ave. You will have the chance to see demonstrations, participate in a taste test of pancake toppings, pancakes made with real maple syrup as well as freshly made maple candies to taste. Visitors also have the chance to buy locally made maple syrup goods as well. This is a free event and no registration is required. Click here to plan your trip.
Come learn the basic steps of how tree sap can be turned into delicious syrup, taste some samples, and help in the process of making this wonderful delight. Be prepared for outdoor exploring. Click here to plan your trip.
The Maple Sugaring Festival takes place at the Tabor Gateway to the Tacony Creek Trail. Visitors are invited to “tap” a tree, and taste real maple syrup on a waffle. You will also learn about how we use maple trees to create maple syrup. This event is free, and if it’s raining or snowing, it will be pushed back to Sunday, Feb. 25.
Fox and Maple Day at the Cobb’s Creek Environmental Center pairs lessons on maple sugaring with a look at the red fox which is native to Cobb’s Creek. There will be plenty of kid friendly activities, nature walks, and a special presentation by the illustrator of “Secret Life of the Red Fox.” Click here to plan your trip.
The Maple Sugaring Brunch is one of most popular events at the Stonybrook Millstone Watershed Center and Reserve. Hike with the teacher-naturalists to their tapped trees, visit the evaporation station, and learn about the process to convert maple sap to syrup. Visitors receive a delicious pancake brunch, served with their homemade maple syrup made from trees on the reserve! Part of this program is conducted outdoors, so winter gear, including boots, is necessary. Sign up for a session ahead of time, registration and prepayment are required. Click here to plan your trip