Maple Sugaring 101
The elders of St. Ann’s Home and Wegman Care Center were recently treated to a very special breakfast – several months in the making!
Last fall, Jenna Carson, Life Enrichment Advocate, had the idea to purchase sap buckets, with a plan to tap the maple trees on the property of St. Ann’s in the late winter months. Jenna remembered all of the fun she had with her father growing up, boiling down sap over a wood burning stove, and she wanted to share this experience with the elders of St. Ann’s Community.
Jenna then enlisted the help of St. Ann’s grounds team, who were more than happy to help with this idea. Greg Cleveland, Grounds Supervisor, along with Jason Mcgowan (and many others), tapped both red & Norway maple trees, with a total of 12 taps with 12 buckets. They collected nearly 100 gallons of sap, which were then passed along to the dining team.
Pasquale Conca, Executive Chef, boiled down the nearly 100 gallons of sap collected into just 2 gallons of maple syrup – talk about a process!
When it was finally time to share St. Ann’s Maple Syrup with the residents, Jenna did a special broadcast through St. Ann’s TV to all resident rooms, discussing how to tap trees, how to convert sap to syrup, the history of maple sugaring, and also played a special syrup song perfect for the occasion (shared below in the comments section).
Maple Sugaring 101, by Jenna Carson:
- Maple syrup comes from Maple Trees
- The trees produce a watery substance called “sap” which gets boiled down into maple syrup.
- At a very specific time of year, you collect the sap by placing a spiel or a “tap” in the tree, with a bucket hanging from it. The sap will run into the bucket. This process is called “tapping the tree”. Then you collect and boil the sap down in the kitchen. Once the water evaporates, you have maple syrup!
- The process of collecting sap and boiling it down is labor intensive, and very finicky, which makes real maple syrup very expensive.
This is because:
- It takes 40 gallons of sap from a sugar maple tree to make 1 gallon of syrup. It takes 50 gallons of sap from other kinds of maple trees to make 1 gallon of syrup.
- It takes 40 years before a maple tree is mature enough to be ready to “tap”. You cannot tap a tree that is less than 12” in diameter.
- Tapping season is in late winter to early spring in our area. The ideal temperature for tapping is when the nights are below freezing and the day time temperature goes above 40 degrees. As soon as the buds on the maple trees start appearing, tapping season has finished.
- The only place in the world that produces maple syrup is the North Eastern United States and Canada. Most maple farms, which are also called “sugar bushes”, are family run businesses.
The St. Ann’s Process:
- This year at St. Ann’s, we tapped the maple trees on the property for the first time.
- We tapped a combination of Red Maple Trees and Norway Maple Trees, with a total of 12 taps with 12 buckets.
- We tapped the trees starting in mid February, and finished collecting the sap at the very end of March.
- Our grounds crew collected approximately 100 gallons of sap this season, which was boiled down by Chef Pasquale into 2 gallons of maple syrup.
- Chef Pasquale learned that as the maple season went on, the syrup turned from a very light color with delicate flavor in the beginning of the tapping process, and by the end of the process it was dark in color and it had a much more robust and richer flavor.