Sunday, March 6, 2011

Maple Syrup Festival

We love this festival! It's at the Indian Creek Nature Center, and we go every year if we're in town.

Some years, it's rainy or snowy while you stand in line, but not this year.
They collect the sap on the Nature Center's property. They don't have that many sugar maples, and collect sap from box elder and silver maple trees, too. That affects the taste of the syrup they produce: it tends to be darker and have a stronger maple flavor. I love it!

Apparently, the last few years haven't been so good for syruping. I heard from one volunteer that they only produced 3 gallons last year.

Inside the sugar shack, an older volunteer was keeping sap boiling. Steam floated off the vats and drifted up and out through the hole in the roof. "I hear last year wasn't a good year for syruping," I commented to him.

He looked at me, then leaned in. "It was a damn awful year," he said. He thought that he'd already made more syrup this year than he had all spring last year. "It got warm too fast," he explained. Apparently, when that happens, the sugar in the sap turns to starch, and won't make syrup.
Outside the sugar shack, volunteers show different methods of cooking it down. 40 gallons of sap=one gallon of syrup. They let me stir!
The result: REAL maple syrup!

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