Tapping your Box Elder Tree potential

by Anisah
(Bushnell, SD, USA)


A few years ago, I was helping my neighbor trim his box elder trees. For us, here in eastern South Dakota, box elder trees are the "scrub tree" that is grown in yards, windrows and volunteer in your garden and along your buildings like weeds. So they aren't seen as highly prized trees. But on that day of trimming, my interest was pricked as to the sugar content of box elder trees when I got some watery sap on my fingers and realized just how sweet the sap was.


I didn't really do anything with the idea until recently. I was reading online about tapping maple trees and trying to determine which maple trees I should plant for future syrup. As I read, I learned I really don't need to plant maples and wait for years for them to get large enough to tap. I already have syrup producing trees already in my yard. Numerous ones in fact! Enough trees to place 25 to 30 taps each year!

This made me think about how many of us are in a planting rut. How many of us are so blinded by varieties we ignore old alternatives that were used for centuries by people. I for one am trying to think "outside the box" and hopefully this hidden sugar potential of my shade trees will be an added bonus to my pantry preparedness.

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Box Elder Syrup
by: Anonymous

We tapped and boil Box Elder sap this year. It makes a delightful, lightly colored, warm and inviting, slightly fruity syrup, somewhat reminiscent of honey. It is great for everything from pancakes, to flavoring tea. I am also going to try it as a light glaze for roasting or grilling.

We both work full time (and i am currently hobbling around on one foot due to surgery) so just kept adding sap and reducing it down over the coarse of 16 days. Were kept it in the fridge in gallon jugs in between cooking it down.

It is absolutely lovely! We ended up with 10 pint jars of the stuff. Well worth the effort. : }

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