Tapping Our Red Maples
By Sandy Schenck
Our maintenance staff is tapping our GRP red maples for the second year. We are tapping nine trees this year as opposed to only two last year. Although I think we began a little late in the season (we are still learning), we have already retrieved more than seven gallons of sap.
Although all maples have sweet, edible sap, northern Sugar Maple trees produce sweeter sap than our southern Red Maples. The rule of thumb for syrup production in the north is 40 gallons of sap needed for one gallon of syrup. Therefore we can expect our Red Maples to have a greater sap requirement per gallon of syrup produced. That’s a lot of sap!
In making maple syrup, the thin, watery sap of the maple tree is boiled down gently to the sweetness and consistency desired. The longer the sap is boiled, the sweeter and darker the syrup will become.
Last year’s “crop” of about 4 gallons of sap total produced only about a dozen small bottles of light syrup, enough to allow our 2010 summer campers to taste the results of our efforts on the ends of their fingers. We are hoping for a greater result this year since we have tapped more trees.
We dream of someday being able to offer our syrup in the Camp Store and at the Dining Hall tables. It will be interesting to see how the 2011 season flows. We’ll keep you posted…