Sunday, March 24, 2013

Maple Sugar

 This is the right time of year to remind everyone that one major Native American contribution to the American economy, especially in the Northeast, is maple syrup and sugar.  This technology was learned by the Europeans and now it is a staple of the U.S. and Canadian economies.  The sap is collected from maple trees and boiled down to make maple syrup.  Boiling it even further makes maple sugar.  The best tree for syrup because of the sugar content is the sugar maple, although the red, black and silver maples can also be tapped.

Here is some interesting information from Maple Syrup World in Montreal, Quebec, Canada:
State or Province                      Amount of Maple Syrup Produced
                                       in 2010
Province of Quebec, Canada:            7,989,000 gallons harvested.
State of Vermont, USA:                 890,000 gallons harvested.
Province of Ontario, Canada:           400,000 gallons harvested.
State of New York, USA:                312,000 gallons harvested.
State of Maine, USA:                   310,000 gallons harvested.
Province of New Brunswick, Canada:     300,000 gallons harvested.
State of Wisconsin, USA:               117,000 gallons harvested.
State of New Hampshire, USA:           87,000 gallons harvested.
State of Michigan, USA:                82,000 gallons harvested.
State of Ohio, USA:                    65,000 gallons harvested.
State of Pennsylvania, USA:            54,000 gallons harvested.
State of Massachusetts, USA:           29,000 gallons harvested.
Province of Nova Scotia, Canada:       22,000 gallons harvested.
State of Connecticut, USA:             9,000 gallons harvested.

Maple syrup and sugar was an important sweetener before the mass marketing of processed sweetened food products.  

There are interesting Native American stories about the origin of maple sap.  An Abenaki story has the powerful being Gluskabe diluting the sap in the maple trees so that it would have to be boiled down.   A Lenape story relates that the sap is a gift from the maple tree to the birds and animals during a time of drought since previously the birds had rescued the maple from a plague of bugs.