Take a weekend to see that syrup come into being

By Dave & Nancy Hively

Misty Maple Sugar House

What is maple syrup and where did it come from? Legend has it that making maple syrup was accidentally discovered by Native Americans. It is said they found a trough near a maple tree trunk filled with maple sap and used it like water to boil their meat for supper. The sweet syrup made their meat one of the best meals they ever had. So after that, maple syrup was then used to sweeten and flavor all their foods.

Today the process of making maple syrup remains basically unchanged — collecting the sap from the maple trees, then boiling it down to remove enough water to make finished maple syrup. Early in the spring, when the temperatures are right, sugar-makers drill a hole in the maple tree trunk and a spout or “spile” is tapped into the hole. The sap flows out of the spile into a bucket, bag, or tubing attached to it. The sap is collected and taken to the sugar house where it is boiled down to the correct thickness in an evaporator.

It takes about 45 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. Finished syrup is about 67 percent sugar and 33 percent water. After the syrup reaches that density, it is drawn off the evaporator, filtered and put into a variety of containers from small jugs to large drums. When the containers are sealed, the syrup can stay fresh for a long time. Pure maple syrup is 100 percent natural, has no additives or preservatives, and has a higher nutritional value than all other common sweeteners, including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

We get lots of questions about how the maple season is going. To get a good harvest, we need temperatures during harvest to be about 20 degrees at night and about 40 degrees during the day. If this kind of weather persists the next couple of months, we’ll have a good harvest. If temperatures get warm and stay warm, the harvest will end quickly. It’s all up to Mother Nature.

If you’d like to see a sugar house in operation, Misty Maples Sugar House invites you to come to our Spring Open House on March 8 and 15 from noon to 5 p.m. Our sugar house is located at 10644 W. Middletown Road in Salem. Just give us a call at 330-332-0728.

Come have a great family day in the country and see sap boiling into pure maple syrup. Take a walk in the woods and see our tubing collection system. Have some hot maple syrup straight from the evaporator on vanilla ice cream. Dress for the season — boots and coats are a must.

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