Has anybody else on this list tried maple sap as another natural (though
admittedly minor) source of food in the temperate zone? Normally, this
is thought of as something unique to eastern Canada and the northeastern
U.S.A.(where aboriginal people developed the basics of maple tapping),
but maples produce useable sap for syrup in my climate (southwest Canada
& Northwest U.S.A.) as well. If they can do that here, then with the
right species it might be possible in northern Europe or in northeastern
Asia, and our list has members in both places. Parts of Chile and
Tasmania might just possibly work as well, though I imagine that maples
are foreigners there.
When we were boys in this region (British Columbia/Washington) one of my
brothers made a project of local maple tapping, and he still makes maple
syrup in some years if he has time. It appears he is not the only one to
think of this, since lately some of the agricultural researchers at the
University of British Columbia have taken an interest and are trying to
promote maple tapping in the area. Good for the local woods, perhaps, if
they can make it work, since otherwise foresters try to eliminate the
maples as a "weed" species. There is even, believe it or not, a "wine"
being made from maple sap (actually a mixture of the sap plus commercial
sugar) and sold experimentally in small quantities. I've tasted it, and
it isn't bad (though I prefer maple syrup).
The local species is Acer macrophyllum, and it can be tapped from
November/December to February/March in this climate. The season is
shorter but more intense in eastern Canada, where the sap rises quickly
in late winter/early spring.
My brother has taught me the techniques, & I can share them if anybody
is interested. For our northern hemisphere members, the time would be
right to start thinking about this, since the primary tapping season
hasn't arrived yet. I realize this may be too specialized a topic, since
it needs a cool climate, a woodlot of maples, and a cheap heat source
(for the evaporating process), so if nobody "bites" I'll drop this one.