Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Maple Syrup Flow

"A sap run is the sweet good-bye of winter. It is the fruit of the equal marriage of the sun and the frosts."-John Burroughs, Signs and Seasons, 1886

Temperatures have been below freezing at night and above freezing in the day so we figured the sap was flowing in the trees and sure enough when we round the hill towards our Amish neighbors home we could see the steam coming out of the Sugar House, a sure sign that the flow is on! It takes about 20 gallons of sap to boil down into 3 pints of syrup thus all the steam.$40.00 a gallon is what we paid to take some golden elixir from the trees home for our dining pleasure.

The evaporator at work.

Buckets collecting from the tapped maple trees.

The Sugar Shack

The sap run is a ritual that happens throughout these hills, on the rim of every spring. We are very lucky to live in forested Ohio. There are many unique benefits that come along with the views. One is the fact that we can tap sugar water from the native, maple trees that grow naturally around us.

There is only one region on the entire earth that meets the required conditions to contribute maple syrup to the world. The upper north- eastern States and south- eastern Canada is the range of maple, syrup country. Starting first in the southern most region of the territory and swiftly flowing up towards the north, a band of Sap Runs swell across this land, every year. It is only here that the climatic conditions can be just right to inspire the amber liquid from within these trees to succumb to, what is called, a good Sap Run.

A good Sap Run happens when the daytime temperatures reach 35-45 degrees in the afternoon but drift back down to freezing again, by night. When this happens for several days in a row, sap is flowing in the maple tree but it does not go into making flowers. The longer the weather holds this freeze/warm pattern, the longer a Sap Run can be.

It is right at the brink where winter meets spring head on, and holds it there, that the maple run happens. When the temperatures rise too high in the day and/or no longer dwindle down to a freeze at night, the trees then receive the signal to bloom, and they burst into flower, causing the Sap Run to be over. Thus, how long or how short The Sap Run is, depends on how long winter opposes spring. No matter what, come March, the odds are on the side of sweet spring, she wins in the end.

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