I headed off this morning bright and early for my usual Saturday hours at work. After I got out of work and arrived home, we hit the road for our trip to Kent’s Sugar House.
It was a picture perfect day, and a great day for a ride in the country. It seemed so good to be out of the house. I think this is the first time we have done something outside of the house all winter, except for our trip to Boston the first weekend of February.
How to get to the sugar house – go to the middle of nowhere, and then drive for about 15 more minutes!
We were thankful for Gretel the GPS who guided us with confidence over all the country byways.
About 40 minutes later, we arrived at the sugar house.
It was a small unassuming building tucked back into the woods.
It was really interesting – they explained the whole process from start to finish.
This is the old way of collecting the sap – stick a spigot into a tree where the sap drips into the pail. The guy who was explaining the process confirmed what I already thought – that there has to be days over freezing and nights below freezing. If it doesn’t freeze overnight, the sap doesn’t flow that day. And once the nights stop freezing, that season of maple syrup “cooking” is over.
This is what the sap looks like collecting in the bucket. He gave us a taste – it tastes nothing like maple syrup. Basically like water with a little bit of taste to it. It’s not sweet at all. I was surprised to learn that it takes 43 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup!
This is the “modern” way of collecting the sap. The spigot connects directly to the tube, and the tube runs along a line of trees and it all goes into a huge collector.
They go around and collect the sap and then pump it out of the collector and down into the sugarhouse through this pipe.
It comes in through the big metal container up in the loft area and then down into the steamer.
The steamer is the top piece and then the area where it boils is the lower area.
The only way to see into the steamer was to look into a mirror they had on the ceiling. The area on the right is looking into the steamer. It heats the sap and starts to heat it and condense it somewhat before it goes down into the lower area. We were told that the steamer cuts the process time in half.
The whole process is fueled by a woodburning stove. They said that they go through 8 – 10 cord of wood during the season. Usually this stove is full of burning wood right to the top – they were just keeping it down for the tours today. They also said that when they are cooking the sap, they have to fill the stove every six minutes.
This is where the boiled down sap comes out of the boiling area. I couldn’t begin to tell all of the ways that they monitor the making of the maple syrup – it was definitely a lot of information to digest.
But once the maple syrup is just right, it collects in a bucket on the left, and then they have to physically carry it over, and pour it in this container, where it filters through the cloths, and then they dispense it into the containers for sale.
Here is Harry enjoying his sample of maple syrup!
This is a very time-consuming part of their lives for as long as the sap running lasts. These people all have day jobs, and they come to the sugar house after work. They go around town collecting the sap and then start the cooking process. The woman said that sometimes they are there until between 11 pm and 2 am, and then they have to head home and get some sleep before they go back to work the next day.
Of course, we couldn’t come home empty handed! The half gallon of maple syrup we bought was still hot! Even now, 3 hours after we got home, the container is still warm to the touch.
Thanks for coming along! I hope you enjoyed your tour of the sugar house!
Oh, and I.M., this is just for you! Harry took this picture of the last remnant of the snow on our lawn today.
Hopefully that is the last we will see of snow until next winter!