Staten Island, NY. I’ll admit it–while this week’s cold spell sent many complaining New Yorkers scrambling for their winter coats again, I was wildly, deliriously happy. Daytime temps dropping to the 40s with freezing evening temperatures can only mean good things for our city maple sugaring project (Urban Forager: Maple Sugaring on Staten Island): lots and lots of sap. Those 60 degree days only weeks before had me convinced I’d missed out on the season, and now I was vindicated: the sap has been flowing on Staten Island, people!
Last year, we tapped a giant tree in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and the home owner and I experimented with outdoor and indoor cooking methods (outdoor is best, but what can you do if you’re constrained by a tiny 2-room apartment in Brooklyn? Answer: Open every window). The results: various grades of maple syrup, and even poached eggs in maple sap (from a tip by @JuleeWhalin).
The experts at the Cornell Sugar Maple Program were very helpful, especially Mike Farrell, whose advice to just drink the sap straight was a welcome one. Maple sap tastes like really fresh water, with just a hint of sweetness. According to Farrell and others, it’s rich in amino acids and other nutrients (meant to support the production of spring leaves) that are boiled away in the sugaring process.
This year, while the homeowners of the Staten Island tree have been busy hovering over boiling pots, I’ve taken to kicking back in Manhattan, sipping sap from a mason jar.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll sprout a full, leafy crown this season. (Namaste, Acer saccharum).
[Note: tapping a mature tree the correct way does not harm the tree. See my recent NY Times Urban Forager post on tapping for details. Btw, I have no idea how the paywall is going to affect these links, but there's only one way to find out...]