Untapped Potential

Michigan looks to sweeten its maple syrup output.


It's the sappiest story of the year. March in Michigan means maple syrup. It's usually the perfect time of the year to harvest the sap that eventually becomes the stuff pancakes dream of. If day temps are too high, sap rises to the top of trees and can't be tapped. If it's too cold, sap won't flow at all. Oh yeah, the nights need to be cold. If the weather isn't freezing at night, sap won't run at all.

Although Michigan ranks fifth in maple syrup production in the United States, advocates are looking to sweeten its position as a global player.

According to the Michigan Maple Syrup Association, only about 1 percent of the state's maple forest resource is used in maple syrup production. So even though there are an estimated 500 commercial producers in the state, there is plenty of room for growth.

Another organization— the Commercial Maple Syrup Producers of Michigan — recently received a $10,000 grant from the state through its Strategic Growth Initiative to study the industry's potential. And Gov. Rick Snyder has pledged money to battle  a beetle that's destroying hardwoods in other states.

Here's a quick primer. Sap is collected from a sugar bush, an area of maple trees — Norway maple, hedge maple, black maple — and, the most popular by far, sugar maple. Once sap is harvested, it must be filtered and processed within a day or two. After that it sours and can't be made into syrup.

Collected sap is boiled down, fast and hard, until it becomes syrup. Since sap is 97 percent water, it takes a lot  — about 40 gallons — to make 1 gallon of pure maple syrup.

The quicker you boil the sap, the higher the quality of syrup. The first sap, from the beginning of the season, is considered best and labeled Grade A or Fancy. It's usually a light amber in color.

For more about Michigan maple syrup and the festivals and festivities surrounding the harvest, visit the MMSA's website at mi-maplesyrup.com.

You may even get to meet the 2014 Maple Queen.

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Clear Choices

Glass half empty or ...? Who cares? It’s the shape that matters

Oma Rules!

Since 1904, Jacoby's has been dishing out German comfort food to rival Grandma's

Drink Recipe: Improved Rattlesnake

Hot Spot: October 2015

Kind of a Big Deal

Dine Drink Detroit to showcase 25 restaurants each offering their finest food and drink combos for $15
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Top Docs List 2015
  2. Life in the Cadaver Lab
    For future doctors, Wayne State University’s body bequest program isn’t all about death —...
  3. Hungry Like the Wolf
    Spanish-inspired tapas restaurant brings delightfully flavored fare to Northville
  4. Running for Her Life
    Founder of Rock CF nonprofit fights back against genetic lung disease

  5. From a Dark Place
    After losing his sight, an artist’s journey to reinvent his life is a lesson in overcoming...
  6. Erasing the Past
    In southwest Detroit, a tattoo removal program helps former gang members leave stigma behind
  7. Life-Changing Decisions
    The list containing the winners and the accompanying medical stories featured in the 2015 Top...
  8. Extremely Personal Choices
    More women opt for a double mastectomy, but does it really prevent anything?
  9. Having ‘The Conversation’
    End-of-life-care issues are becoming part of the national dialogue
  10. Oma Rules!
    Since 1904, Jacoby's has been dishing out German comfort food to rival Grandma's