This weekend was SapFest. It is a small, annual event run by a friend. He has a few acres and several Sugar Maples. In the early spring, folks come out and help gather the sap into buckets and then watch it boil. He claims it is the outdoor equivalent of watching paint dry, but my wife and I found it more exciting than that.
I’ve been surrounded by Maple syrup most of my life. I thought I knew how it all worked, but seeing it was a bit different than I excepted.
The trees are tapped in early spring/late winter and the sap starts to flow when the day time temps are above freezing and the night time below 32F. We’ve had the perfect weather the last week.
A shot of the tap. The blue bag sits on the tap via the little hold. The small bump on the top holds it near the tree.
Once there is some sap collected in the bag, it is time to collect. My wife and I had fun traipsing through the snow and mud to collect. Even though it was sprinkling and MAYBE 40F, it was fun.
The sap looked a lot different than I expected. I guess I was thinking it would be thicker like pine sap or something. It had a lot in common with water. The sap at this stage is only 2-3% sugar, and the rest is water.
After our sap run, we had filled up about 30 gallons. The next step was to pour them into a holding barrel to await evaporation into syrup. The large barrel feeds into the trough on the top (below). From the top it slowly drains into the much larger trough on the bottom which is kept boiling.
You can see the color difference between the freshly collected sap left and the slightly tan on the right. (below)
The evaporating process takes many, many hours. It also requires a LOT of sap. depending on which source you read anywhere from 40-66 gallons of sap to create one gallon of syrup. It becomes syrup once it reaches 66% sugar according to the Canadians who are the world’s biggest producer of Maple syrup.
I’m looking forward to trying some of the syrup once it is complete. It was a fun day outside, with friends, shooting the breeze standing next to a roaring fire. The homemade beer was pretty good as well! It was probably the best SapFest ever.
If you’d like to learn more about Maple syrup I found the links below very helpful.