Thursday, March 15, 2012

4(hours)=1 out of 40

(This post is dedicated to T. Sushereba...because of you I added two activities to my week.=))
A friend on FB posted some pictures earlier this week of the sugar bush activities at a local nature center. (was that a long sentence or what?)(and this is activity #1=)) I have wanted to take the kids out there for a few years, but there is never enough time. This week I saw those photos and decided this was going to be the year to see how maple syrup is made. And if this is the year, then this is the week. Sugaring season is winding down.  Public tours run Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, so we headed down the road a few miles today, and experienced this phenomena.
Happy foursome.

Elsie pretending to stir sap...Indian style

Ethan modeling the yoke...Almonzo Wilder style

very interested

almost ready
Our guide was very enthusiastic. I think she is used to talking to kids. She pointed out how to recognize a Sugar Maple tree. She showed how to drill a hole in the tree to tap for sap, and the kids got the opportunity to help her. We saw a reproduced wigwam from  the "Native American" sugaring times, and then saw cast iron pots and wooden yokes and buckets from "Laura Ingalls Wilder" times. We saw syrup being boiled, with one batch almost done. It is an amazing process. It is the end of the season, so the sugar content is only about 2%. It takes about 4 hours of boiling to get it to the 60% sugar content. Syrup this time of year is darker. It is a lower grade. It is darker because it has more of an opportunity to caramelize the longer it cooks. We got to sample a wee smidgen. It was very good. Maple syrup is expensive because it takes so much sap to make one gallon. Most trees only give off 5-10 gallons of sap per sugar season. It takes 40 gallons of sap to get one gallon of syrup. That is 3-4 trees worth of sap. Lots of work, lots of time. But delicious. The kids thought the experience, topped off by a stop at Coldstone, equalled one of the "best days ever."
And, I'm thinking its only going to get better...we are having corned beef, colcannon, soda bread and carrots for dinner.
Anyone want to join us?