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A Guide to Maple Sugaring in New Jersey

by Cristina Lombardi
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February is a sweet, sweet month. Stores are stocked with chocolates and heart-shaped candy galore, (and they’re on sale after the 14th – you’re welcome). However, if you’re looking for an all-natural, organic type of sugar — or simply a fun winter activity — look no further than maple sugaring. Maple sugaring is the process of taking the sap from maple trees to later create maple sugar. Beginning at the end of January, parks in New Jersey have been offering fun opportunities to go maple sugaring — including events and tours for the entire family to enjoy. Guests will learn how to tap a tree, collect the maple sugar water, and then get a lesson on how that is turned into delicious syrup you can use on your favorite breakfast foods. Keep reading to learn more about this interesting and unique activity and which New Jersey farms offer maple sugaring events.

maple sugaring north jersey

History of Maple Sugaring

This popular activity originated many centuries ago and was first practiced among Native American groups and colonists. It is believed that Native Americans discovered the maple tree’s sweet surprise when icicles containing sap would fall from trees in the winter. These individuals then began the process of ‘tapping’ sugar maple trees in order to reach the sap that would then be boiled down into maple syrup. One of the products made from maple syrup is maple sugar, which is the process of boiling down the sap for a long period of time. When nearly all of the water has been boiled away, the remnants left are a solid sugar, or maple sugar. Native Americans found it could be easily transported in blocks or candy form and transported with no worries of spoiling.

Maple syrup is completely natural and organic and has been around for ages. When used in place of regular granulated sugar, granulated maple sugar is about twice as sweet but actually has fewer calories. This makes maple sugar an ideal substitute and an organic sweetener for regular granulated and/or cane sugar. Many people are just discovering the benefits of such an organic food which has become so popular and accessible in recent years. Today, maple syrup bottles line grocery store shelves and are a staple in American house lands — making this process an important part of American history.

Read More: A List of Great Winter Hikes in the NJ + NY Area

How it Works

During the process of photosynthesis, maple trees circulate water from their roots into their branches, which mixes with sugar produced in the tree’s leaves. This circulation creates what we refer to as sap. During early spring, warm days and cool nights change the maple tree’s internal pressure and sap escapes through natural leaks or man-made taps. Sap is collected from the tree and boiled to evaporate the water. Homemade maple syrup and maple sugar is made from this process.

Fun Facts

  • All maple trees can be tapped for sap.
  • Tapping a maple tree requires limited tools.
  • A tapped maple has the potential to produce between 10-20 gallons of sap.
  • You need about 40-60 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup.

The Best Places to Go Maple Sugaring In New Jersey

Surprisingly enough, Vermont isn’t the only place to offer maple sugaring. From early February until mid-March, the maple sugaring season is at its peak in New Jersey — making it easy to get your maple sugar fix close to home. With this list of local spots to go maple sugaring in New Jersey, we’re sharing where and when you can go maple sugaring with your friends and family. Trust us, this is an experience you won’t want to miss and you have to experience it for yourself. It’s only available for a few months each year, so be sure to take advantage of it.

Maple Sugaring in Mendham at Schiff Nature Center | 339 Pleasant Valley Road, Mendham

March 5th | 9:30AM-11AM

Experience a hands-on demonstration of maple sugar production with members of Schiff’s educational staff and Board. The tradition of maple sugaring began centuries ago with the Native Americans and early settlers and continues today as homeowners learn to identify, tap, and process the sap of Maple trees. Join the Nature Center for this 1 1/2-hour program. This program is free to Schiff members. The non-member fee is $5 per person for ages 3 and up.

Howell Living History Farm | 70 Woodens Lane, Hopewell Township

Every Saturday in February, guests can learn about the traditional and modern ways of tapping sugar maples, smell and see how they get turned into syrup and help collect sap. The farm also has animals and other weekly activities.

Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center | 247 Southern Boulevard, Chatham Township

February 26th and 27th, March 5th, 6th, and 12th

This all-outdoor program will show visitors how to identify and tap maple trees, plus collect sap and make syrup over a wood-fired evaporator.

Maple Sugaring Fest at Reeves-Reed Arboretum | 165 Hobart Avenue, Summit

March 6th

Staggered entry times will be available so you can learn the process of maple sugaring and safely explore the hiking trails afterwards.

Tenafly Nature Center | 313 Hudson Avenue, Tenafly

Every Sunday from February 6th to mid-March

The Tenafly Nature center will teach you the history of maple sugaring, and take you on a walk to their sugar bush so you can experience the process for yourself.

Happy Day Farm | 106 Iron Ore Road, Manalapan

March 12th, 13th, 19th, and 20th | 10AM-5:30PM

Visitors can expect to see Happy Day Farm’s “sugar bush,” see what kind of tools are used to collect sap, learn how to distinguish maple trees, and get hands-on experience with the “tapping” process. Attendees will also get to experience a tractor ride that will go all around the 130-acre farm, and purchase both pancakes and maple syrup to satisfy your sweet cravings. Admission is $17 per person while children aged one and under can go in for free.

Miller-Cory House Museum | 614 Mountain Avenue, Westfield

March 27th | 2PM-4PM

This educational program will teach their attendees all of the techniques used when it came to maple sugaring during colonial times. There will also be a featured maple sugar story time and a related craft activity suitable for children.

See More: Unique Winter Getaways Within Two Hours of Hoboken + Jersey City

Environmental Education Center | 190 Lord Stirling Road Basking Ridge

Saturdays + Sundays from February 19th-27th | 10AM, 3PM

At this event, families can enjoy a one-hour outdoor program at the Environmental Education Center. The center recommends you dress for the cold weather and arrive 20 to 30 minutes early to ensure ample time to hike to the center’s “Sugar Shack.” Tickets will start at the price of $6 for both students and senior citizens and $7 for adults. To register for tickets, you can go to the Somerset County Park Commission site.

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