Photo contributed by the Basket Historical Society

The main barn at Andersen’s farm in Long Eddy, one of the area’s larger producers of maple syrup.

Looking Back 2/6/19

Late winter is upon New York, and the prime season for maple sugaring is nearing. Producing the second-highest quantity of maple syrup—only behind Vermont—New York has a rich history of tapping its state tree, the sugar maple, every winter.

The Algonquin and Iroquois tribes began the tradition of harvesting maple sap prior to the arrival of the Europeans in the seventeenth-century. They used methods such as dropping hot rocks in the sap or removing the ice layers from sap buckets left out overnight to remove the excess water and concentrate the syrup. The European colonists expanded the Native American system in the 1600s, using horses and oxen to move larger volumes of sap to sugar shacks, where it would be boiled to remove the excess liquid.

However, it was during the Civil War when the maple syrup market began to boom, in part due to new methods to store and preserve the syrup, such as the tin can. Abolitionists often bought maple syrup as a replacement for cane sugar, which was produced via slave labor.

The more efficient methods and equipment used in maple sugaring today were invented in response to an energy crisis in the 1970s. Modern filtration techniques and more powerful heating tools allow us to enjoy locally produced maple syrup with our pancakes on these cold winter mornings.

The Basket Historical Society preserves and presents the history of the Upper Delaware River area. If you are interested in becoming a member or finding out more contact us at baskethistsociety@gmail.com.

 

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