Thursday, March 11, 2021

Ewan's Making Maple Syrup

Anyone who has driven around the countryside in central Wisconsin has seen more and more maple trees being tapped.  Sometimes it is a huge operation with tubing attached to the trees which is constantly collecting sap and transporting it to a large evaporation unit.  I have written about making maple syrup before.  I don't know if this increased activity is something to do during the pandemic or because the supplies are readily available, but many people are trying it.  I have seen news stories where school classes are doing it as a safe outdoor activity to teach students.  I saw a house in our town with one big tree in their front yard tapped.  Sometimes people collect the sap in plastic bags and sometimes they just hang a bucket.  The bucket method was what was used by our grandson Ewan.  Of course, it is another Old Time Skill he wanted to try.  Six years ago when he was a little tyke, we took a tour that he remembers.

My daughter and son in law have huge maple trees in their yard.  I am sure they would break some sort of size record and have probably been there for many many years.  It was a perfect chance to try collecting sap.  When the days become warmer and the nights remain cool is when the the sap starts running.

They bought some special tapping spouts and hung some buckets.  It doesn't hurt the tree.  Almost immediately the sap started to drip into the bucket. 

It was amazing how fast the sap accumulated in the buckets.  He had to empty the sap a couple times a day or on some days more often.

The sap is almost clear and tastes slightly sweet.  Sometimes you see squirrels licking trees.  They are tasting the sap that is oozing out in the springtime.  It doesn't have to be a maple tree.  Syrup can be made from other trees such as hickory.  The taste is different but the process is the same.

In less than a week, they collected twenty gallons of sap.  Since the ratio of sap to syrup is 40 to 1, you need a lot of sap.  Twenty gallons would make a half gallon of maple syrup.

After gathering the sap, the cooking process begins.  They began the process outside on a wood stove. Slowly the sap is heated to evaporate the water content and it leaves behind the sweet amber syrup.  It is a long process.  When it started to turn a light brown, they brought it into the house to finish the process.  Of course, Ewan had to taste it to make sure it was just right.

Another great educational activity Ewan and his dad could participate in together.  He has had more experiences in his ten short years than I have had in more than seventy years.

Drum roll please!   Here is the final product.  It looks delicious, and better yet it was basically free.  I hope I will be able to taste it some day.