Sappy smell is in the air as the syrup season begins


Riley Adamski

As February rolls in once again, Maple trees are starting to look delicious. The maple syrup season runs from February through April. At this time, taps start getting pounded into maple trees in a variety of places.

A general fact about making syrup is that it’s a 40:1 basis from sap to syrup: 40 gallons of sap make 1 gallon of syrup. The whole process can be broken down to three parts: first finding the trees and tapping them; second refining the sap and making the syrup; and finally storing and enjoying the final products.

For the tapping process, all that is needed is a drill, tap, and collection barrel. Also, any tree that classifies as a maple would work for getting sap, as well as some other trees. Up to 3 taps can fit into a tree, depending on the size of the tree it could go higher. As a rule of thumb from 10-17 inches in diameter you can fit one tap, 18-24 inches fits two, and anything greater than 25 inches can fit at least 3 taps. Once the holes are drilled and the tappers are placed, put a bucket or bag under the tap. Position it so that the sap gets caught in it. These containers can range from any size, it doesn’t make too much of a difference. The final step is gathering all the sap every day. 

The second main process in making syrup is actually refining the sap into syrup. This part is usually conducted in what is called a sugar shack. A sugar shack is a place where sap is stored and refined into the finished product, or syrup. For this you need big boiling pots, probably a few to make it go faster. Either firewood or electricity could fuel these burners. First, before the sap is put into the pots, the sap is filtered. This is to get rid of any bugs or anything else that could contaminate the syrup. Once the sap is filtered it is then put into the pots with the other ingredients to boil. During the syrup boiling it is required to regulate the temperature with either a thermometer or a hygrometer. “The hardest part is finishing the syrup. It seems to take forever and you have to get it right on with the hygrometer,” Matt, an experienced syrup-maker, said.

The final bit is the easy part. Put the syrup into final containers for storing. Use cans, jars, etc., to store the sugary syrup. 

Making syrup is a way for people to get closer to family. The whole family can work to get the syrup, and pride is taken in that. “Me and my family eat everything we can harvest from the land around us, we take love into doing that. Also it puts the kids to work,” said Matt. So with the season of syrup coming up shortly it might not be a bad idea to get into it.