Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Maple Syrup Tour

Today is Saturday, March 28th, 2015.  It was a cold frosty morning here in Wisconsin.  My daughter called to see if we were doing anything special.  She had signed up for an activity called "Tap into Sweetness: Maple Syrup Tour".  It was one of many events sponsored by the Green Team.  The Green Team is a partnership of many organizations in the Green Lake Wisconsin area such as the Green Lake Association, Green Lake Conservancy, the Green Lake Sanitary District, and the Green Lake School District..  They introduce special, unusual, and unknown natural and historical features of the Green Lake area through the special talents of their volunteers.  These are free, family-friendly events.  This is the first time we participated, but looking at the calendar of events, it won't be the last.

It was a bit frosty when we arrived at the sight this morning, but the sun was bright in the sky and it was perfect weather.

Our daughter Heather and grandson Ewan waiting to start the tour.

We were given a brief explanation of how to make maple syrup.  I have written in  a previous blog about one of my childhood memories about making maple syrup. 

It was fun to see the process again in person.  Rather than hang sap buckets from the trees, they use a tap connected to a hose.  The sap runs out of the tree, and into a covered bucket.  This way the bucket is solid on the ground when it gets heavy and debris can't get into the sap.

A sample of a tap and tube.

The sap is clear.  This much sap makes the little 2 oz. leaf shaped container of syrup.

After the information and a question and answer session, we started the walk into the woods.

Following the leaders, the sugar shack signs and the sap buckets scattered in the woods.

Finally off in the distance, we could see the steam from the boiling syrup. 

When everyone arrived, we learned more about the process.  We learned that the weather is what determines whether or not the sap will run.  It has to freeze at night and warm up during the day.  When the weather stays at freezing the sap will not run and vice versa, if the days and nights warm to above freezing the sap won't run.  Today should be an excellent day because it was very cold last night and today it is in the 40's.  When the buckets are full, they are emptied into a stainless steel holding tank.

This is the large holding tank.

The sap is poured into the evaporator and is boiled.

A Hydrometer

They use a hydrometer to determine the density of the syrup to determine when the proper thickness is achieved.  As it is boiled and the water is evaporated, it is tested for the exact thickness.  There is niter in the product that has to be strained out. 

You can see the Niter settled in the bottom.

We were given maple cookies and maple candy to sample, but before long it was time to leave the woods.  Grandpa and Ewan headed down the path.  He told grandpa he wanted a Micky Mouse pancake, so guess what we did.  We went to breakfast.  These are the days memories are made of.

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