Sugary syrup is reduced from the sap of a tree by boiling. While some species are more often used than others, there are many that produce sap that can be boiled down to a pleasing flavored syrup.

Sap is obtained from a tree by "tapping" it. This process involves drilling a hole in a mature tree, putting in a spout (a small metal or wooden tube through which the sap drains), and hanging a bucket from it until the bucket is full of drained sap. This sap is them boiled down to syrup over an outdoor or well-ventilated stove (the boiling process creates a great deal of steam). To produce a significant amount of syrup you will need a great deal of sap, as it may take as much as 40 gallons of sap to make only one gallon of syrup. There are many great books that provide a great deal more information about tapping trees for sap and the production of syrup.

Additionally, the sap of these trees can be used as a substitute for drinking and cooking water. It is even said that fantastic tea can be brewed in sap instead of water.

Plants in this guide from which syrup can be made

Aceraceae - The Maple Family

While the Sugar and Black Maples are the most commonly tapped because of their slightly higher sugar content, almost all members of this family produce sap that can be boiled down to a fine syrup.

Betulaceae - The Birch Family

Black Birch

Sap reduces to a dark, sweet syrup, not unlike molasses.

Juglanaceae - The Hickory Family

Sap flow and sugar content of Hickories is comperable to most maples. Sap is boiled down to syrup in the same way.

Except where specifically noted, all text, photographs, and drawings copyright Chris Bersbach and Lisa Leombruni 2002. No part of this page may be reproduced without the express permission of the authors.