This week we went on a field trip to see how the tapping of maple trees is done, for making syrup. This brought back fond memories of my childhood, and I was happy my children could see the process as well. (A family friend of ours in Ohio did this.)
First they explained to us the tapping process:
Large trees can have 3-4 taps:
Kaylin (friend), Dominique and Joshua checking out the tin buckets:
Next stop, they demonstrated how "maple syrup" flavored stuff you buy in the store typically has NO real maple syrup in it - it is pure corn syrup, and not nearly as tasty! They explained a few other things here while we warmed up, and then we were on our way to the next stop.
The old mill. Didnt have anything to do with our field trip, but I couldn't resist taking a picture of it!
Inside the sugar shack, where we saw the enormous evaporator used to boil down the sap until it becomes syrup. Sap is 97% water, so it has to boil a long time (8-10 hours) in order to become syrup. It requires 35-40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup, so that explains why true, pure maple syrup is not cheap! Oh, and besides the ratio issue, there is only a short window of time during the late winter/early spring in which you can tap the trees: when it is below 32º at night, and above 32º during the daytime.
Still, *nothing* beats the taste of true, pure, real maple syrup! Nothing!
Here is the sugar shack from the outside:
Our group was too big to all go together, so we split up into two smaller groups. This was my group: 6 mamas and 22 children. :)
Dominique, Cheyenne and Kaylin trying to share an umbrella! That was the only drawback to our day - it was misty and sometimes sprinkling, but at least it wasnt pouring!
We had a nice time and will soon report our backyard experiment with tapping our own maple trees. :)