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Thứ Hai, 2 tháng 3, 2015

Sap runs slowly for crowd at Maple Madness - Chambersburg Public Opinion

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George Hammond, right, helps carry a kettle of simmering sap, demonstrating a colonial-era method of syrup-making during the Mount Hope Maple Madness run

George Hammond, right, helps carry a kettle of simmering sap, demonstrating a colonial-era method of syrup-making during the Mount Hope Maple Madness run by Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve naturalists at Camp Eder retreat center in Fairfield on Saturday. The sap is cooked slowly in a kettle to evaporate the high water content. (Jeff Lautenberger — For The Evening Sun)






Assisted by naturalist Nate Shank, left, Alivia Colgan uses a drill to make a hole in a red maple tree before inserting a spile tap to collect sap during a

Assisted by naturalist Nate Shank, left, Alivia Colgan uses a drill to make a hole in a red maple tree before inserting a spile tap to collect sap during a sugaring demonstration at Mount Hope Maple Madness run by Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve at Camp Eder retreat center in Fairfield on Saturday. (Jeff Lautenberger — For The Evening Sun)





FAIRFIELD &GT;&GT; A pair of Gettysburg 10-year-olds with rosy cheeks and red noses shivered in Saturday morning's cold, but both girls smiled broadly after completing a three-part introduction to maple syrup production at the Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve at Camp Eder.


Mount Hope Maple Madness has been a staple for decades at the preserve that curls into a forested ridge that hosts the faith-based Camp Eder.


The maple syrup celebration includes a pancake breakfast, syrup tasting and an up close primer on the maple syrup process - from tapping the tree's sap to cooking the sap into syrup.


Along the way, visitors were privy to an algebra refresher from naturalist Jo Serfass, who offered an algebraic solution to determine whether a tree is big enough to drill and tap for sap.


Ali Harvey, 10, tramped through the snow along with her pal, 10-year-old Alivia. They heard a talk about the history of North American maple syrup production, got hands-on experience in tapping a maple tree and saw the sap cooked down in a black pot over an open fire, The girls were chilled to the bone by that time, but not too cold to share their opinions, while seated back inside the Camp Eder lodge, which bustled with visitors.


Pulling off her woolen cap, Ali said she came away with the ability to recognize a maple tree by the look and texture of its bark.


Fighting to keep her teeth from chattering, Alivia said, "I learned that sap is 98 percent water and two percent sugar."


That sugar is the object of the maple syrup industry and the enthusiasts at Strawberry Hill.


Serfass says she's been volunteering at the nature preserve for several years. She narrated the tapping process, starting out with a warning that a maple tree must be of a certain size before it can be tapped.


A teacher by profession, Serfass says she can't resist a little educational twist in her presentations. The adults, along with the children, scratched their head as Serfass measured the circumference of the tree, then explained that dividing the circumference of the tree by pi (3.14) yields the diameter, which must be at least 10 inches for a tree to be tapped.


Once the tree was approved, Serfass led the group through the drilling of a tiny hole with a hand-powered brace and bit, placement of the spout, hanging a collection bucket and covering it with a lid that fits around the spout.


Turns out, the sap wasn't running very swiftly Saturday, because of the sub-freezing temperature, so the group moved to another tree that had been tapped earlier, producing a scant amount of sap that was collected and moved to the final stage — evaporation — where sap is cooked slowly to evaporate the water and leave the sugar behind.


Serfass says a mature tree can produce 10 gallons of raw sap during the maple season that typically runs from the end of February through the month of March. She says the key to good production are temperatures below freezing at night and above freezing during the day.


Those conditions trigger a natural phenomenon that forces sap upward from the roots in a kind of pumping action. Once the tree produces spring buds, it's time to quit.


As one of her assistants remarked, "The sugar in the sap at that point tastes terrible."


The sun had risen higher into the sky by 11 a.m. when Eli Macoy and his girlfriend Sara Warren of Newburg arrived at Maple Madness with their friends Douglas and Angel Kuhn of Newville, and their daughters Ariyah, 5, and Jorden, 1.


Warren said her mother visited the event a few years ago and recommended it.


"She's (Sara) been after me for a few years to come, so here we are," Macoy said. "I'm intrigued to learn about it. This is a good opportunity to have a good breakfast, have the kids climb some trees and get some education."


With the wisdom of a 5-year-old, Ariyah said she could skip the education part.


"I already know how you do it," she said. "You plant a seed."


Jim Kime was directing traffic in the parking area, a job he says he's done for decades. He says Saturday's attendance was surprisingly strong, considering the temperatures.


"This is a better turnout than last year on the first day.


The Maple Madness is on tap next week, Saturday, March 7, with breakfast starting at 7:30 a.m. and programs kicking off at 9 a.m. and running through 3 p.m.


More information about the Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve and directions to the site are available online at http://ift.tt/1vPbgCm.







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