Red Maple Versus Sugar Maple for Maple Syrup
Does the syrup made from different maple trees taste different?
Spoiler alert. It doesn't. Simply put, it's the same thing.
I have been around maple syrup and maple syrup production for almost 40 years and I can't tell a difference.
Owning a maple syrup processing company and being a maple syrup grader I have personally tasted tens of thousands of samples of maple syrup and I can't taste or see a difference between maple syrup made from a red maple versus maple syrup made from a sugar maple.
What is a red Maple Tree?
Maple syrup is made from the maple tree. But not all maple trees are the same. There are many different species of maple tree. Bigleaf maple, hedge maple, Japanese maple, Amur maple, Paperback maple and of course the sugar maple and red maple.
Just like everything else in the world we can't seem to all decide on what to call different maple trees either. But hey, that's what makes the world a super interesting place right?
The two maple trees we are looking at here are red maples and sugar maples. I have heard sugar maples as referred to as hard maples and rock maples.
The red maple and sugar maple are the two trees that maple syrup is made from. This is primarily due to their geographic location in the North Eastern part fo North America.
Geography of Red Maple Trees versus Sugar Maple Trees
We're located in Nova Scotia on Canada's East Coast. As a result, we don't have a lot of highlands but we have a lot of maple groves at sea level or very near sea level.
Sugar maple trees tend to grow at higher elevations (greater than 300m) while red maple trees tend to grow at lower elevations.
So Nova Scotia by its geographic disposition has a lot of red maple trees.
But there are a couple of differences between the sap from these two species of maple tree.
Sap Levels in Red Maple Trees versus Sugar Maple Trees
Sap from the sugar maple will usually contain more sugar than sap from a red maple tree so sugar maple trees are more coveted from an economic standpoint for producing maple syrup.
The more sugar that is naturally occurring in the sap the less boiling you have to do potentially saving a lot of energy, time and money. This is especially true for large commercial operations.