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The Process of Maple Syrup

From Sap To Syrup

Vermonters have been sugaring for hundreds of years. It was originally a way for farmers to supplement their income during the slow months. Today, it's a multi-million dollar industry and Vermont sugar makers are responsible for almost half of the nation's total production.

Curious about how sap turns into syrup? The labor-intensive process is broken down into important steps below.

Step 1 of the process is tapping the maple trees.

STEP 1: TAP THE TREES

Toward the end of February / beginning of March, sugar makers in Vermont tap their trees using either buckets or tubing. It all depends on the size of the operation and the sugar maker's preference.

Step 2 of the process is waiting for the sap to run.

STEP 2: WAIT FOR A SAP RUN

Once all trees have been tapped, it's time to wait for Mother Nature work her magic. Cold nights and warm days will encourage the sap to run. It's not always just the temperature, though—wind can play a factor, too.

Step 3 of the process is gathering the sap.

STEP 3: GATHER THE SAP

Once the days start to get warmer, allowing the sap to run, it's time to gather! Shown here is the traditional way of gathering sap, by a horse-drawn sleigh. The sap is mostly clear water, with approximately 2% sugar content.

Step 4 of the process is transfer the sap to a holding tank.

STEP 4: TRANSFER TO A STORAGE TANK

After the gathering is done, it's time to transfer the sap to a storage tank, which is connected to the sugarhouse. This allows a consistent flow of sap into the evaporator during the boiling process.

Step 5 of the process is boiling the sap.

STEP 5: TIME TO BOIL SOME SAP

Now that the sap has been transferred to the holding tank and the pan has been filled with sap, it's time to fire up the arch and start boiling. It takes around 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup, which is 66.9% sugar.

Step 6 of the process is draw off and filter the syrup.

STEP 6: DRAW OFF AND FILTER

When the thermometer in the pan reaches 219 degrees, the syrup is ready to be drawn off and filtered - which extracts niter (sugar sand) from the syrup.

Step 7 of the process is sampling the product.

STEP 7: SAMPLE THE WORK

Some look at this step as quality assurance, while others see it as a reward for hard work. Either way, sampling is an important step in the process of grading and labeling the syrup for flavor and color.

Step 8 of the process is canning the finalized product.

STEP 8: CAN IT UP!

After the syrup is graded, it's then canned using Pure Vermont Maple Syrup containers. It is now ready for maple lovers to purchase and enjoy!

Now that you know how maple syrup is made, learn more about the four grades of syrup, decide which flavor to buy, and see how it can be used in your next recipe.

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