Posted by: Stefan Anderson | March 16, 2011

Tapping the Maple Trees

Post Contributed by Katie Connolly, Graduate Fellow and Field Instructor
Primary Photo contributer Elliott Schofield, Graduate Fellow and Field Instructor

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When the sap starts running, spring is soon on its way! We’re fortunate enough to live in a region of the world where we can tap maple trees to make syrup or sugar. Northeastern North America has the climate and the trees that make it possible.

At Conserve School, we tap around 130 sugar maple trees in the spring to harvest the sap. Cold nights below freezing and warm days above freezing cause the sap to flow from the roots up into the branches. The past two days students have been receiving the basic “sugarmaker” training and have been busy drilling and tapping the sugar maples on campus. Using a bit and brace, they drill a small hole into the side of the tree, clean it out, tap in a spile (or spout), hang the bucket, and watch the sap flow!

When sap first comes out of the tree, it only contains about two percent sugar. To make syrup, we need to boil the water off to concentrate the sugar to around 66%. It takes around 40 to 50 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup! Stay tuned for the blog as we continue to gather the sap… when we have enough to make a decent amount of syrup, we’ll have a boiling day!

Take a look at all our pictures, thanks to field instructor Elliott, who was our photographer. We’ve been having a fun time tapping all those trees. Making real maple syrup is hard work, but it has a very sweet reward! Real maple syrup can’t be beat. I can almost taste those pancakes now!

-Katie Connolly




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