Mike's Maple CampThe grand ritual that has begun to herald the start of spring at the Lodge is the hanging of sap buckets on our sugar maple trees. There may be a few more snowflakes still to come, but once the buckets go up you know old man winter has met his match. Making maple syrup has long been a tradition in the US and Canada, even before these areas were colonized.
The collection of maple sap pre-dates recorded history in the Americas. The Algonquin Indians are believed to be the first to recognize the sap as a source of energy and nutrition. This knowledge was eventually passed to the first settlers. While the process has been modernized, we still follow the same basic steps to produce maple syrup passed down from the Algonquins.
Maple sap has played an important cultural and historical significance in our country as well. Maple syrup and maple sugar were used by abolitionists prior to and by the Northern states during the Civil War as most sugar was made in the South by plantations. During food rationing in World War II, people in the northeastern United States were encouraged to stretch their sugar rations by sweetening foods with maple syrup and maple sugar, and recipe books were printed to help housewives employ this alternate source.
Sap collection typically begins in March and will last for 3 to 5 weeks depending on nature. Freezing nights and warm days are needed in order to induce sap flows. Trees are tapped once they reach 10 inches in diameter. Of the sap that is collected, roughly 98% of it will be boiled off to make the enjoyable treat maple syrup. It takes about 40 to 45 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.
This natural process is here to be enjoyed. Early spring is the time to get to the Lodge and see this demonstration of history and sustainability. You might just walk away with a few jars of fresh maple syrup you helped make!
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