Yesterday the kids and I headed into the deep countryside to visit a maple sugar shack.
I've read about maple sugaring to the kids, but there's nothing like seeing the real thing for yourself. Here's what sap collection looked like for several hundred years:
Modern collection is much less asthetic. It involves miles and miles of plastic tubing intertwined through the sugar bush, picking up sap from each of the maple trees as it winds its way toward the "sap ladder" and the holding tank:
Tanks outside the sugar shack fed the sap through a reverse osmosis machine to remove as much water as possible and then dropped the concentrated sap into the evaporator, which in modern times is fueled by diesel, not wood.
Everything is now mechanized and automated! When the proper temperature is reached at the front of the evaporator, the syrup pours into a holding tank, ready for filtration and bottling.
The smell of maple penetrated the shed and made me feel as if I was transported for an hour to Vermont and my childhood memories of visiting sugar shacks. Back then it was boiled in an open evaporator fueled by wood, and the syrup was tested by hand to determine it's readiness.
We had a delightful time talking with the owners and helper. So far this year the sugarbush has produced 900 gallons of pure maple syrup. Last year they produced only 500 gallons total. I guess it's a good year!