Tree Syrups and Sugars: Maple, Birch, Palm

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
When bees make honey, they perform two basic tasks: they remove a very dilute solution of sugar from plants, and then evaporate off most of the water. What the bees evolved to do instinctively and with their own muscles and enzymes, humans have learned to do with the help of tools and fire. We make syrups and sugars by extracting dilute juices from plants, and then boiling off most or all of the water. Of the man-made sweets, tree syrups and sugars are most like honey in that they retain nearly all the original contents of the sap, and are not refined to the extent that cane and beet sugars are.