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Thứ Năm, 20 tháng 2, 2014

Northwest Park guests 'Tap for Sap' - ReminderNews

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By Lisa Stone - ReminderNews

Windsor - posted Thu., Feb. 20, 2014

Stefan Boca watches the sap flow into the pail. Photos by Lisa Stone.

Stefan Boca watches the sap flow into the pail. Photos by Lisa Stone.

Northwest Park’s Sugar House was the starting point for a day of fun and education on Feb. 8. Park volunteer John Silliman took Flora and Stefan Boca for a tour around the premises and showed them how to “Tap for Sap.”

The three trudged through the deep snow to tap maple and sugar maple trees for sap that would later be turned into maple syrup by the park’s maple sugaring expert, Chuck Drake. “It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup,” said Silliman. “We place pails all around the park as well as two other sites to be able to collect as much sap as we can. Last year we were able to produce around 50 gallons of syrup.” According to Silliman, a slow year can yield as little as 20 to 25 gallons of syrup, whereas a good year can yield as much as 52 gallons.

While the group searched for maple trees that were old enough to produce sap, they were very careful not to tap into a tree that showed signs of distress, such as injuries like broken limbs or any other obvious trauma. “We just allow those trees to heal,” said Silliman. “We don’t want to put any unnecessary stress on the trees.” According to Silliman, if there are holes in the tree from previous taps, it is very important to be sure that the new tap holes are at least 6 inches away. This will provide the best flow of sap and help keep the tree as healthy as possible.

In order for the sap to flow freely, there is a need for temperatures to be below 32 degrees at night and above 32 degrees during the day. This temperature change signals the tree that it is time to produce sap. Sap is the method that the tree uses to supply the nutrients to the leaves. It comes from the roots up to the leaves. “The amount of sap that we tap off of the tree is just a small amount that the tree produces. There is no harm being done to the tree or its leaves,” said Silliman.

Stefan was given the honors of drilling the tap holes in the trees and hanging the pail onto the spile, which is the hollow metal device that enters the tree and allows the sap to run through it and into the pail. “If we use a bigger spile will the sap come out even faster?” said Stefan.

“That is a good possibility,” replied Silliman. “We don’t use large spiles because we want to keep the holes in the tree as small as possible. We try really hard to keep the trees safe and healthy.”

After hanging the metal pails on the spiles, Stefan placed a lid on the top to keep debris out of the sap. “People really need to be respectful of the collecting process,” said Silliman. “Guests at the park have been known to place their trash in these pails. I’m not sure if they even pay attention to the fact that it is there to collect sap or not.”

When all the sap from the pails have been collected, it is stored in 55-gallon drums and kept cold. When Drake has a collection of 150 gallons or more of sap, he begins the evaporation process. This extracts the water from the sap and brings the percentage of sugar from 2 percent to not more than 66 percent. “After the sap has reached more than 66 percent sugar content, it becomes maple sugar,” said Drake. “That is what is used to make maple sugar candy. At 100 percent it becomes cake sugar. That is hard and compressed.”

The “Tap for Sap” program will be held on each Saturday and Sunday throughout February and March from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Drake will be giving a history on the making of maple syrup and sugar in March. The park’s pancake breakfast will be held on March 22. For more information go online to or call 860-285-1886.

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