By Gabe Ross, Farm Manager
With February fast approaching it’s time to start thinking about tapping some maple trees and boiling sap here at Gallant Farm. For sap to flow, temperatures need to be below freezing at night and above freezing during the day. This is the reason maple syrup is produced only in the northeastern United States and Canada, because that is where the maples grow and the weather is right. Ohio usually ranks around 5th in the country for maple production. In the past it was a common source of winter income on farms that could be done before the busy spring and summer growing season. It takes about 40 gallons of the watery sap to make a gallon of syrup and the main tree that is used is the sugar maple but other maples like silver and red can be used as well. The only ingredient in real maple syrup is maple sap, it is boiled down removing the water in the form of steam until the syrup is about 33 percent water and 67 percent sugar.
Over the years we’ve used a variety of different set ups to boil down our sap, we started with just a kettle hanging over a fire and have built temporary stoves out of concrete blocks and brick all with varying degrees of success. This year we will be using our new flat-bottomed pan over a brick arch that we built to fit the pan, these types of pans have been around since the mid-19th century. This should make the process much more efficient. This arch or stove will also be used in other seasons for things such as canning or cooking.
With the recent freezes and thaws some folks have already begun tapping, so the season will be underway before we know it. Keep an eye out in Gallant Woods for the buckets hanging from the trees. We will be having our Maple Syrup weekend February 25th and 26th from 10am-3pm so come out and see how the evaporator works and sample the product.