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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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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