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Maple dreams come true

As far as I can remember, I had always dreamed about taking part in the maple ceremony of sucking the maple sap from a maple tree.This year my dreams came true — I was blessed with visiting The Kortright Centre for Conservation, which is one of few farms in Ontario where maple syrup is collected from sugar maple trees.

The procedure of collecting maple syrup is plain:

  1. tap the sugar trees
  2. collect maple sap
  3. evaporate water from the sap
  4. enjoy your syrup

Production methods have been streamlined since colonial days, yet remain basically unchanged. Sap must first be collected and boiled down to obtain pure syrup without chemical agents or preservatives. Maple syrup is made by boiling between 20 and 50 litres (5.3 and 13 US gal) of sap (depending on its concentration) over an open fire until 1 litre (0.26 US gal) of syrup is obtained, usually at a temperature 4.1 °C (7.4 °F) over the boiling point of water. Syrup can be boiled entirely over one heat source or can be drawn off into smaller batches and boiled at a more controlled temperature. (emphases Alex’s)

While meandering along the sugar bushes, I had a neat idea of setting up the maple business. What you hafta do in this business, I thought, is strictly following the above mentioned the four-step routine. It was my maple dream which had no chance to come true — the instructor evaporated it from my mind. She told me that if I were about to become a maple fat cat, I would have to wait for 40! years, at least, to reap the very first maple harvest — that is how long it takes the sugar trees to grow.

Maples are usually tapped beginning at 30 to 40 years of age. Each tree can support between one and three taps, depending on its trunk diameter. The average maple tree will produce 35 to 50 litres (9.2 to 13 US gal) of sap per season, up to 12 litres (3.2 US gal) per day. This is roughly equal to 7% of its total sap. Seasons last for four to eight weeks, depending on the weather. During the day, starch stored in the roots for the winter rises through the trunk as sugary sap, allowing it to be tapped.Sap is not tapped at night because the temperature drop inhibits sap flow, although taps are typically left in place overnight.Some producers also tap in autumn, though this practice is less common than spring tapping. Maples can continue to be tapped for sap until they are over 100 years old.

That is basically all that I was about to share with you. If you want to witness some sugary pictures of the trip, you are welcome to click on any number down there — each number leads to a picture from the trip. Bye for now.

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