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Monday, February 27, 2012

Maple Syrup Time

I was out on assignments again, and thought this would be a great bit of local
"industry" to show you.

One of the great products of northern states is maple syrup. In addition to tons of time, it requires maple trees and the right kind of weather.

When the days are warm and nights below freezing the sap begins to move up the trees. It can be "tapped," collected, and boiled down into syrup or even farther, into maple sugar.

The trees were traditionally tapped with a small piece of pipe on which a bucket was hung to collect the sap. In small commercial operations now, the buckets are replaced with plastic tubing that delivers the syrup to a central locations. You can see the blue and black tubing strung between the trees.

sugar bush

There are special ends on the tubing that can be pounded into the trees.

tapping maple syrup trees

Whether you are going to boil down just a little bit or gallons and gallons of sap, you should not do it inside your house. The steam is full of sugar and will make a real mess.

Small commercial operations (how most syrup is made) have a special sugaring house where the boiling is done. Here's where this sap was going.

sugaring house

Of course, traditionally, the boiling was fueled by a wood fire. You can see that this place uses propane gas.

LPG tanks

Does all this progress take the romance out of that small jug of syrup you buy for $10 or more? Maybe. But it will still taste great. Think what it would cost if all that work was still done by hand.

As for the weather, I would think this won't be a great year for syrup. It's been too warm in general for a good sap run.

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Breath Of Fresh Air said...

My grandparents tapped their maple trees and boiled the sap in a large kettle over an outdoor fire pit. I have fond memories of sugaring-off parties and my grandmother's waffles, topped with hand churned butter and hot maple syrup.

Ratty said...

I remember watching a TV show about this once. It was fascinating. All they had to do was tap a pipe or tube into the tree and the syrup came right out.

Catherine said...

How beautiful that nature provides us with the sweetest and most beautiful things. Blessings, Catherine

Ann said...

I've noticed the buckets starting to appear on the trees around here.
My cousin makes her own syrup and she did it inside once (key word being once)....lol

Lin said...

Oh wow! That sure looks like a lot of work for some syrup. I don't think I'm gonna try that anytime soon. Do you think the price of syrup will go up this year---along with everything else?

Sharkbytes said...

Nature Lover- Thanks for sharing that experience!

Ratty- yup, you just go to the correct depth to get into they xylem

Catherine- and yummy too!

Ann- I've never actually done it... only watched. I'd love to try it

Lin- There aren't many expenses for this that increase, except the fuel. It's just so labor intensive that it is an expensive product.

vanilla said...

Thinking about the ten-dollar bottle and how much it might be, of necessity, if technology did not provide some enhancements to the old, more romantic way. Love the syrup, and the sugar, but I am not fond of tromping around in the cold!

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