Monday, April 30, 2012

Maple Heaven


Amazing how reading that one simple word can conjure large amounts of yearning and excitement, isn't it?

The Nature Center had a 5k run and pancake brunch, which my daughter insisted on going to.  Naturally, I was only too happy to comply! Proceeds from the Maple Syrup Fun Run and events like it go toward supporting the Nature Center, so it was definitely worth participating in.

Unfortunately, we arrived too late to do anything more that have brunch.  No running for us!  That's ok, though.  We were happy to be there.

And, after all, it had pancakes.

These weren't just any pancakes, however.  The sticky maple syrup that oozed over our plates came directly from trees within the park.  Bonus!

Tapping maple trees is something that I've always been interested in, but I've never actually seen it done.  I had to know more.

The number of taps that a person can have on a single tree is largely dependent on the tree's diameter.  From what I can gather, a tree needs to have a trunk that measures at least 12 inches in diameter to be able to place one tap on it.  To place two taps, the diameter needs to be over 20 inches, and to place three (the maximum that I've seen) it needs to be around 28 inches or more.  Those are some big tree trunks!

Next, you grab your favorite drill and drill a hole into your maple tree that's at a convenient height for you.  The hole needs to be drilled at a wee slant in order to help guide the maple sap properly.  A depth of about 2 inches is what I've seen recommended.

Finally, you connect your tap to the hole, and hang a bucket from it.  Oh, and... use a lid.  Otherwise you'll have a nice amount of bugs gathering about your maple sap!

When you've collected your maple sap, it needs to be boiled so that you can rid it of all of the excess moisture (and, I daresay, help kill off any nasty bugs and bacteria that've made their way inside!).  It's recommended that this is done outside, due to the overwhelming amount of steam that's created.

Once it's boiled down into perfect, syrupy heaven, you need to run it through a fine sieve of some sort, in order to get rid of any grainy bits.  I've seen coffee filters mentioned as being a perfect tool for this.  Another option is to just leave it to settle overnight so that all of the excess material sinks to the bottom, then pour the maple syrup into a new container, leaving the sediment behind.

One source of information that I found myself continually going back to in my hunt for information was Tap My Trees.  If you're interested in making your own maple syrup, I'd suggest going there for additional information.  The site has tons!

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