New Jersey Maple Syrup: You Got a Problem With That?

Looking at you, Vermont
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 25, 2024 4:51 PM CDT
New Jersey Maple Syrup: You Got a Problem With That?
Judith Vogel, left, and Ryan Hegarty discuss maple syrup produced by Stockton University's Maple Project in the Galloway, NJ, campus on Feb. 21, 2024. The university is using a federal grant to examine the feasibility of establishing a maple syrup industry in southern New Jersey.   (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

Welcome to New Jersey, known around the world for Tony Soprano, Turnpike tolls, and ... maple syrup? If a university in the state's south has its way, the sticky sweet brown stuff you put on your pancakes might one day come from New Jersey. It's part of an effort to use a species of maple tree common to southern New Jersey that has only half as much sugar as the maples of Vermont, the nation's maple syrup capital. Backed by $1 million in grants from the Department of Agriculture, the AP reports that Stockton University is in its fourth year of producing syrup from 300 acres of maples surrounding it. "You should never tell a New Jerseyan, 'It can't be done,' because we live for the challenge," says Judith Vogel, director of the Stockton Maple Project.

  • The difference: Red maples like those in Stockton "are not highly sought-after because the sugar content is ... about 1% coming from a red maple versus about 2% for a sugar maple," like those in Vermont, says Ryan Hegarty, assistant director of the Maple Project. It takes about 40 gallons of sap from sugar maples to make a gallon of syrup, while red maples clock in at least 60 gallons.
  • The yield: In 2022, New Jersey produced 1,817 gallons of it, worth $88,000. By contrast, Vermont produces half of the nearly 6 million gallons of maple syrup sold each year in the US, worth about $105 million.
  • Climate: New Jersey is warmer than Vermont, affecting sap flow. "You need below-freezing nights, then you need above-freezing daytime temperatures," Hegarty says. That usually begins around the second week of January.
  • 2024: So far Stockton has collected over 4,000 gallons of sap from 400 trees, and expects to produce 55 gallons of syrup, "which would be a great year for us," Hegarty says.
  • The product: Stockton's syrup is darker and richer than commercially sold syrup, and has a slightly smoky taste from the cooking process. The university is already using the syrup in its food service program, and also sells it at farmers' markets. "Our syrup in New Jersey is as good as anybody's anywhere in the world," says longtime syrup maker Charlize Katzenbach.
(More maple syrup stories.)

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