Maple and Honey

Beekeepers tending to hives

Table of Contents


When you eat New York honey or maple syrup, you are connecting to thousands of years of human tradition in addition to our current community of producers. While maple syrup is unique to North America and the process of creating maple syrup was developed by Indigenous peoples1, there is evidence that humans were consuming honey and even beekeeping in ancient civilizations around the world2. In the 1970s, maple syrup became a symbolic commodity for the abolitionist movement as a replacement for cane sugar produced by enslaved people in the West Indies. William Cooper, of Cooperstown, NY fame, was an advocate for this "free sugar" as an alternative to molasses3. In addition to their uses as food, both maple syrup and honey have long been lauded for their medical properties 1,2. Rich in history and full of robust flavor, both New York honey and maple products are natural sweeteners that can and should be easily incorporated year-round into any institutional menu.

New York Grown Food Guides offer information and resources to support institutions in identifying, sourcing, and producing local foods from within the state. The Guides, along with the Farm to Institution New York State Local Food Buyer Learning Center (, equip food service and procurement staff with education and training to incorporate local products into meals to improve the health of New Yorkers and local economies statewide.


Sweet Stats: Maple and Honey Facts


  • New York is second only to Vermont in maple production.6
  • On average, it takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup, but the ratio varies depending on sugar concentration.7
  • New York produced 845,000 gallons of syrup in 2022. This is the volume of one and a quarter Olympic-size swimming pools.8
  • New York state is home of the largest resource of tappable maple trees within the United States, and 2,000 maple sugar makers.9
  • New York ranks 12th in the country for honey production in pounds.6
  • New York produced nearly 3 million pound of honey in 2022 resulting in over $10 million in honey sales.6
  • For thousands of years, honey has been used in various cultures to treat wounds and health conditions.10
  • There are over 300 varieties of honey in the United States.
  • Research has shown honey can be used to help people with their coughs, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disease, neurological disease, and medical grade honey can even help with wound care.11
Close up of tapping maple, kids in the background

How It's Made


  • Bees collect nectar from flowers and bring it back to the hive to store the sugars in honeycombs. Once the honey reaches the right consistency, they seal the honeycomb with wax for long-term storage.
  • Beekeepers collect excess honey for harvest by taking honeycombs from the hive, removing the wax seal, and putting it into an extractor that helps get the honey out of the honeycomb.
  • Lastly, the honey is strained to remove any particles like wax and pollen and packaged.4

Maple Syrup

  • In the early Spring, when temperatures are above freezing during the day but freeze overnight, sap begins to flow in Sugar Maple trees.
  • Producers tap the trees by drilling a hole and inserting a spout to collect the sap into either a bucket or vacuum tubing system.
  • Lastly, the maple syrup is filters and bottled.5

Availability, Quality Characteristics, Pack Sizes, and Grades

Sap for maple syrup is typically collected in late winter and early spring, and honey is typically harvested from beehives in summer with the potential for a second harvest in early fall. Despite these short windows for collection, New York maple syrup and honey are available year-round and have a longer shelf-life than most produce, dairy, and meat, making them an excellent option for incorporating NY products into your menus at any time.

Quality Characteristics

The quality of both honey and maple syrup are measured by flavors and aroma, absence of defects, uniformity of color, and clarity.

Packaging Requirements & Pack Sizes for Maple Syrup and Honey

Example pack sizes

1 5 Gallon container

4 1 Gallon containers

6 1/2 Gallon (64 oz) containers

12 1 Quart (32 oz) containers

12 12oz containers



U.S. Grade A

U.S. Grade B

U.S. Grade C


There are four types of Grade A maple syrup that are differentiated by light transmittance and flavor but do not have differences in quality.

U.S. Grade A Golden

U.S. Grade A Amber

U.S. Grade A Dark

U.S. Grade A Very Dark


Maple syrup in a container with a forested background
Honey in glass jars of various sizes

Storage and Preservation

  • Unopened maple syrup can be kept in a pantry for up to 12 months.14
  • Opened maple syrup can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 12 months.14
  • Honey is best when used within 12 months, after this point quality begins to degrade but it is not a food safety issue.15
  • Honey will crystalize when glucose molecules separate from the rest of the honey and clump together for form crystals.
  • To de-crystalize, either 1) submerge the entire jar into a pot large enough to cover the honey jar and stir occasionally until liquid; or 2) transfer honey into a microwave-safe container (preferably glass) and microwave in 30 second intervals until liquid consistency is reached.16


Full Service (Broadline) Distributors

New York Distributors

Preparation Ideas and Recipes

  • Substitute New York honey or maple syrup for granulated sugar or brown sugar in  your favorite recipes. Ratios and substitutions vary, so be sure to research options.
  • Use honey or maple syrup as a sweetener for sauces and salad dressings.
  • Drizzle honey or maple syrup on top of a dish for a touch of added sweetness.

Maple Squash Bake

Portion SIze

1/2 cup




  • 9 cups (or 4.2 lb or about 2 squash) Acorn squash, whole
  • 4 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 9 cups NY Apples, red variety, chopped
  • 1 cup NY Maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup Butter, unsalted, melted
  • 3 cups Cranberries, dried


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Peel, seed, and dice squash into 1/4 inch cubes.
  3. Divide squash evenly between two baking sheets. Toss each sheet with 2 Tbsp olive oil and bake for 15 minutes.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine apples, maple syrup and butter. Add mixture to baking sheet with cooked squash. Stir to make mixture uniform.
  5. Place squash mixture back in oven. Reduce temperature to 320 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven, add cranberries and serve warm.

American Indian Traditional Foods In USDA School Meals Programs: A Wisconsin Farm to School Toolkit by the Wisconsin Dept. of Public Instruction

Overnight Oats with Berries

Portion Size

12 oz.




  • 5 lbs. 5 oz Strawberries, sliced, IQF
  • 4 lbs. 11 oz Blueberries, frozen, wild, IQF
  • 3 quarts, 1 3/4 cups, 2 tablespoons NY Milk, fluid, nonfat
  • 3/4 cup, 1 1/2 tablespoons NY Honey
  • 3 tablespoons Cinnamon, ground
  • 5 pounds Oats, rolled (old fashioned), dry
  • 7 lbs. 3 oz. NY Yogurt, vanilla, nonfat


  1. Thaw strawberries and blueberries in perforated pans, under refrigeration, at least 24 hours prior to use.
  2. Critical Control Point: Hold for cod service at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
  3. Once thawed, discard justice and combine the berries.
  4. Combine milk, honey, and cinnamon. Whisk until smooth. Stir the oats into the milk and honey mixture. Place in nonreactive pan (e.g. stainless steel, plastic food service pan). Cover and refrigerate overnight, allowing the oats to absorb the milk mixture.
  5. Critical Control Point: Hold for cold service at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
  6. In a 12 oz portion container, layer ingredients in the following order:
    1. Oat mixture - Use a No. 10 scoop (3/8 cup)
    2. Nonfat yogurt - Use a No. 16 scoop or a 2 oz spoodle
    3. Berries mixture - Use a No. 8 scoop or a 4 oz spoodle
  7. Critical Control Point: Refrigerate until served.
  8. Critical Control Point: Hold for cold service at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

Marinated Black Bean Salad

Portion Size

1/2 cup




  • 1/2 cup Lime Juice
  • 2 Tbsp Parsley, dried
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin, ground
  • 1/4 cup and 3 Tbsp (or 2 oz.) Garlic cloves, fresh
  • 2 Tbsp Ancho chili powder OR Tbsp Mexican seasoning mix
  • 1 qt and 1 1/4 cups (or 3 oz.) Cilantro, fresh, minced
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 1 cup NY Honey
  • 1/2 cup Apple cider vinegar
  • 2 qt 3/4 cup and 2 Tbsp (or 5 lbs.) NY Black beans (canned low sodium, drained, rinsed OR dry, cooked)
  • 1 1/2 cups and 2 Tbsp (or 3 lbs 8 oz) Whole-kernel corn, frozen, thawed
  • 2 1/4 cups (or 12 oz) NY Green peppers, fresh, diced
  • 3 cups (or 1 lb) NY Red peppers, fresh, dieced
  • 3 1/4 cups (or 1 lb 12 oz or about 1/3 No. 10 can) Salsa, canned low sodium
  • 2/3 cup, 1 Tbsp and 2 1/2 tsp (or 4 oz) NY Red onions, fresh, diced
  • 1/2 cup (or 2 oz) Jalapenos, diced, seeded
  • 1 qt (or 1 lb) Low-fat NY cheddar cheese, shredded


Dressing: Combine lime juice, parsley, cumin, galic, ancho chili powder, cilantro, olive oil, honey, and apple cider vinegar. Stir well. Set aside for step 3.

  1. Combine black beans, corn, green peppers, red peppers, salsa, onions, and jalapenos in a large bowl. Stir well. Set aside for step 3.
  2. Pour 1 1/2 cups (about 14 oz.) dressing over 3 qt (about 5 lbs 3 oz) vegetables. Stir well
  3. Transfer 3 qt 1 1/2 cups (about 5 lbs 13 oz) bean salad to a steam table pan (12" x 20" x 2 1/2"). Use 2 pans.
  4. Sprinkle 2 cups (about 8 oz) cheese over each pan.
  5. Critical Control Point: Cool to 41 degrees Fahrenheit or lower within 4 hours
  6. Critical Control Point: Hold at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or below
  7. Portion with No. 8 scoop (1/2 cup).

United States Department of Agriculture

Two student punctures a maple tree with tools

Classroom Ideas

The Maple Experience: An educational outreach program developed through a New York State legislative grant that is sponsored and managed as a special initiative of the New York State Maple Producers Association. The exhibit is available to schools and educational programs at no charge.

Case Study: Sweet Lessons Connect Students with Farm Products

By Katie Navarra

Most kids have a sweet tooth and are more likely to try new foods with a sugary flavor. So, it's not surprise that the nearly 800 Schenectady City School District (SCSD) students who tasted maple and the over 900 who tasted honey liked or loved it and eagerly dove into classroom lessons on how they are produced.

"Maple and honey are a great way to engage kids and bring them into the agricultural world," said Rebekka Henriksen. As the school district's Farm to School Manager, she leads teams through the New York Farm to School Institute and oversees a $100,000 USDA grant that makes the program possible.

As Rebekka prepares for a new school year, she visits each school and asks faculty members interested in working together to sign up. It takes persistence and sometimes creative solutions to get some teachers to participate.

"Sometimes they have a concern about classroom or behavior management, so I give them the option of taking kids out in smaller groups," she said.

When she works with classrooms to teach maple sugaring, she starts with simple tree identification in the fall. Then she leads a tree tapping lesson in winter, but instruction also incorporates a range of science concepts ranging from light refraction to viscosity and density. Students work to collect sap throughout the run and get to taste the result of all they've learned after Rebekka boils the sap in her backyard in two camp pans and serves it in class over pancakes or ice cream.

Similarly, she looks for opportunities to connect honey production to a variety of traditional classroom lessons, such as the role of pollination, nutrition as it is related to carbohydrates, and more. To get local honey into all 250 of the district’s elementary classrooms, Rebekka worked with a local farmer to source specifically sized honey bear bottles that were smaller than his typical one- and two-pound offerings.

“Maple and honey are wonderful New York crops to introduce students to Farm to School,” she said. “They provide multiple opportunities for hands-on lessons that support core science curriculum through all the grade levels, and
really engage students in a farm to table experience.”

In addition to the science lessons naturally connected to agriculture, Rebekka also helps ensure history and cultural connections are tied into instruction.

“We have a large Guyanese population here in Schenectady, and they are closely connected to agriculture, maybe only one generation away from growing food,” she said. “A lot of kids, whether it’s our Puerto Rican families or Yemeni families, they have a close relationship with the land, and there are a lot of cultural lessons that can be brought into the agriculture lessons too.”

Partnering with the food services department also helps to increase the number of students exposed to the produce raised in the gardens.
Understanding where the products they are already using are sourced from, and what certifications and regulations their distributor requires, are critical to making integration of farm raised products easier so local farmers meet those requirements.

“I am so grateful that our food services department agreed to get on board,” she said. “They feature Harvest of the Month taste tests in our cafeterias and find ways to incorporate those items students liked or loved into the line.”

Rebekka began working with SCSD as a parent volunteer and paraprofessional in 2015 with a small garden at the Jesse T. Zoller Elementary School. Her family grew up raising much of their own food and processing it at their urban home garden and she relied on those skills to feed her family as a low-income household receiving WIC and SNAP benefits.

“The principal asked me if I could build a garden here [at Zoller] because she knew I had an agricultural background,” she said. “I said sure because I knew that many of our kids don’t necessarily have access to outdoor space or their family doesn’t have the time or knowledge. So, they can get these skills that are so important for all humans to have, while connecting to nature and really getting engaged in what they are learning.”

That has grown into an apple orchard and 15 gardens throughout the school district and expanded to include maple sugaring and honey. One piece of advice she offers to others leading farm to school programs is to ensure there is a great enough capacity and faculty engagement to use what is harvested and maintain grow spaces. She also recommends finding a champion in your building, or within the district, who can help recruit others to embrace the program.

“Go slow and make sure it is sustainable,” she said. “Do action planning to include small discrete goals for one month, six months, and a year so that you know you’re making progress. And celebrate the victories, no matter how small!”

Reports from elementary students including photos
Students tapping a maple tree

As you can see from the phots, students had science lessons and learned how to tap a tree for maple syrup!

Students tasting honeycomb.

The children taste the honeycomb.

Maple and honey are wonderful New York crops to introduce students to Farm to School. They provide multiple opportunities for hands-on lessons that support core science curriculum through all the grade levels, and really engage students in a farm to table experience."

Rebekka Henriksen
Schenectady City School District
Farm to School Project Manager

4 beehives

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