Four reasons to try maple sugaring

By Sarah Pitzer, naturalist
Missouri Department of Conservation

Maple sugaring - photo courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation

Maple sugaring – photo courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation

Here are four reasons to try maple sugaring:

  1. Maple syrup – Need I say more? Once you try real maple syrup, you may never go back to store-bought corn syrup again!  Besides syrup, the sap can also be used to make sugar, taffy, butter, hard candy, and more. It takes some work, but the reward is so sweet.
  2. Get outside – Winter is a season where it’s easy to stay in, but being cooped up inside is no fun. Sap flows when the temperatures dip below freezing at night and rise above freezing during the day. Collecting and cooking sap is a perfect reason to be outside on sunny, warm winter days. While you’re out, look for animal tracks in fresh snow, or listen for the high-pitched honking of snow geese as they migrate north.
  3. Have fun with your family and friends – Since Native Americans first learned to make sugar from sap, maple sugaring has been a community activity involving all ages. Kids can help collect the sap, older adults can enjoy socializing around the outdoor stove as they boil the sap down, and everyone gets to enjoy the finished product. Maple sugaring can be your new tradition!
  4. It’s good for you – It’s not just the exercise you get from hauling sap around or the physical and mental benefits of being in nature. Maple syrup contains nutrients important for our bodies, including manganese, vitamin B2, zinc, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Pure maple syrup is 100% natural, contains no coloring or additives, and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing exactly where it came from. If you’re interested in learning more, come to one of the maple sugaring programs at Rockwoods Reservation in January, or the Maple Sugar Festival on February 6. Also, you can check out the Backyard Guide to Maple Sugaring on MDC’s website. We hope you’ll discover the rewards of maple sugaring for yourself!

Backyard Maple Sugaring – Landowner Workshop
Rockwoods Reservation
Thursday, January 28, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Saturday, January 30, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. (Adults)
Do you have maple trees? Do you love maple syrup? This workshop will teach you how to develop your own backyard maple syrup operation. We cover everything from tree identification to cooking. Portions of the program are outside, so please dress for the weather.

Registration is required: Reservations begin January 14. Call 636-441-4554 Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. If you are unable to attend, please call and cancel as a courtesy to those on the waiting list. Interpretive services are available for those with hearing loss with 5 days notice.

Maple Sugar Festival
Saturday, February 6, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (All ages)
It’s maple sugar time! Venture outdoors to Rockwoods Reservation and experience conservation success and forest resources at their finest – and sweetest! Visit the Sugar Bush to see trees tapped and collect the precious sap. Boil the sap down like Colonial Americans at the Three Kettle Station, and see a more modern method at the Sugar Shed. Taste delicious syrup, sugar on snow taffy, and pure maple sugar. More importantly, learn to do all of this right in your own backyard. It’s a day your whole family will enjoy. (No reservations necessary. Parking will be available at Rockwoods Reservation and off-site via a shuttle bus.)