March in New England: Time for Maple Sugaring!

In New England, the first sign of spring is often seeing those metal buckets on maple trees, for the farmers' first harvest of the year. We are so fortunate to have many opportunities to learn about maple sugaring, and the process from spire to sap to syrup, on farms throughout the area. This year, we decided to explore the process ourselves in our yard in New Hampshire. We bought a simple kit, and set out to tap a tree. I didn't realize it would be rather tricky to identify a maple tree without leaves; we have a plan to tag trees in our yard next fall, or to draw a map. Still, we looked at a few images and did our best to find a tree with the right-looking bark and branches. Then we crossed our fingers and tapped!

maple.jpg

We had great success! It turned out we tapped a Silver Maple tree, and each weekend for several weeks when we went up skiing, the bucket was full! It was amazing to watch how much it boiled down in our kitchen, to just a very small amount of syrup. 

 

At Drumlin Farm in Lincoln, we learned more about the history of the maple sugaring process, and investigated many tools, from long ago and today. 

At Drumlin Farm, they have a large evaporator to boil down large amounts of sap!

At Drumlin Farm, they have a large evaporator to boil down large amounts of sap!

And, a very large griddle for large amounts of pancakes!

And, a very large griddle for large amounts of pancakes!

At the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary we took a tour of the sugaring process.  We  learned how to easily identify maple trees in the winter, how to tap the trees, all about the evaporation process.  We even got a taste of the final product.

Here we listened and watched the sap we collected was boiled down to syrup.

The taste of fresh syrup is amazing!

We came in to warm up and learn a few more facts.  My daughter was fascinated by the fact that 40 gallons of sap are needed to make just one gallon of syrup.  

We bought some of the syrup that was made at the sanctuary and had it on our pancakes the next morning.

Sugaring
By Jessie Haas