You would look a little ridiculous lugging around a bag of store-bought sugar in the middle of the woods so use the below methods to make your own. The same can be said for maple syrup. It may turn out that your own versions are cheaper and tastier than the ones at the store!
Types of sugar
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that any beet will do to provide you with sugar. What you’ll be looking for are sugar beets, which look more like a parsnip. They’re elongated and look like white potatoes. What’s great about these beets is that they grow in a wide variety of climates.
The first thing you’ll want to do is scrub down your beets to get rid of any dirt. Using a knife, cut the beet into thin slices and add to a pot. Pour enough water in to just cover the beets and then heat them to a boil.
Once the water is bubbling, simmer the beets long enough that they become tender. Remove the pot from the heat and strain the beet pulp through a porous cloth back into the pot. Then return the syrup to the heat and simmer until the substance becomes honey-colored. Be sure to stir it frequently so that it cooks evenly. Then remove from the heat and store in a cool, dry place.
The sugar will crystalize the cooler it gets. In order for you to know just how much sugar you’ll be getting, a beet will yield 17% of its weight in sugar. This means that, in order to get 1.7 pounds of sugar, you’ll need 10 pounds of beets.
Making maple sugar
Maple trees can only be tapped in mid-February to mid-March, meaning that you’ll be without if you find yourself hiking during other times of the year.
You want to pick a tree that is mature and healthy, and has great exposure to sunlight. You want to choose a tree that is bigger than twelve inches in diameter.
This video shows how you can create your own spile from a tree branch that you can use to tape trees:
Without a drill, an ax can be a great way to create the hole you need to tap your tree. Cut a V-shaped notch into the bark deep enough to access the softer wood underneath. If you start to notice some immediate dripping, then you’ve hit the payload. If you plan on using the sap immediately, then it should be consumed within 2-3 days or bacteria will start to grow on it. But it can be preserved much longer when it’s boiled and turned into sugar.
One quart of the syrup will yield about two pounds of sugar.
Other sap-yielding trees
- Black Maple: they’re lower in scale of sugar than the sugar maple, and are distinguishable by their leaves. Sugar maples have five lobes on their trees, while black maples only have three major lobes.
- Red Maple: these trees start to bud earlier in the spring, which means that their sap production is going to be in less quantity and quality towards the end of the sugaring season.
- Silver Maple: these trees also bud earlier in the spring, results in a lower sugar content and reduced sap quantity. The lobes on a silver maple leaf are extremely pointy and elongated.
- Boxelder: also known as the Manitoba maple, these trees can be found in urban areas and growing by roads. Be aware that they only yield about half as much sugar as a sugar maple does.
- Bigleaf maple: this is the main species of maple growing between central California and British Columbia. These are the largest of any maples, and the leaves are quite big in comparison to other maple leaves.
- Canyon/Big Tooth Maple: this tree can be found in the areas of the Rocky Mountains, as well as Texas. The leaves are quite similar in shape, appearance and color to the sugar maple.
- Rocky Mountain Maple: their leaves are extremely rough and have serrated edges that make them distinguishable.
- Butternut/White Walnut: butternuts are native all across North America and Canada, and have compound leaves on each branch that makes them identifiable.
- Black Walnut: it’s quite common in the Midwest, but also grows in the Northeastern part of the United States.
- English Walnut: these trees grow in abundance in California, and yield a delicious sap when there has been a freezing winter and spring.
- Paper Birch: though the sap is not as sweet as the sugar maple, it is one of the sweetest out of all the birch trees. Birch trees are more recognizable by the horizontal direction in which their bark can be peeled.
- Yellow Birch: the sap is not very sweet, but does have a higher antioxidant capacity than sugar maple.
- Black Birch: this is the most commonly used in making birch beer.
- River Birch: this birch is found most commonly in the Southeastern part of the United States.
- Grey Birch: this is more of a shrub than an actual tree. This disadvantage to this tree is that it has to be large enough in order for it to be tapped successfully.
- Sycamore: the sap has been known to have a butterscotch flavor to it. The tree is most recognizable by the bark that flakes off in large masses.
- Ironwood: these trees are most prized for their wood and have greyish-brown bark. They sap later in the spring, so the yield is not going to be as much as you want/need.
Make sure that when you’re tapping these trees to not do it too deeply. It can affect the health of the tree and result in its death.
Making sugar from sugar cane
One added benefit of chewing on sugar cane is that the fibers in it can also help to keep your teeth clean, serving as an impromptu toothbrush!
Have you made your own sugar or maple syrup? Let us know if you have any tips or tricks for doing so!
Article Source: Survival-Mastery