7 forest wonders: 7 Sugar maple

Sugar maple

© Dave Pape

Yes, it’s delicious… but maple syrup is also more nutritious than other refined sugars, containing manganese, riboflavin, magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc. Long before the arrival of European settlers, indigenous peoples in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada collected the sap from sugar maple trees, drank it, cooked with it and boiled it down into syrup. The Europeans learned the process from them, and built log-cabin shacks in the sugar bush – wild stands of maple groves within mixed forests – where they could make the syrup. This is a time- and fuel-intensive process requiring many hands, as the sap is 97.5 per cent water. It takes about 40 years for a tree to mature enough to be tapped, but then it will yield up to 50 litres of sap every year for a century.

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