Here is a slideshow that Stephen and Avian presented in front of their 4th grade class, along with their introduction to maple syrup below the video. Papa Buckshot helped a lot with the content of the intro.
We went to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to make maple syrup with our Grandma Rosie and Papa Buckshot. Our family has been making Maple Syrup for nearly 60 years at our Sugar Bush. My great-great-great-great Uncle Elmer also produced Maple Syrup on the Potvin Farm for many years in the early part of the 20th century.
The First thing you need in the production of Maple Syrup is Sugar Maple Trees.
Sugar Maples only grow in North Eastern part of North America, no other place in the World.
The next tool is a drill. The Tree should be 10”in diameter or larger to tap. On large trees two or three spiles may be installed, depending on the size of the tree.
One tap will produce enough sap to make a quart of syrup during the season. Papa taps 200 trees, so we should produce 200 qts or 50 gallons of Maple Syrup in a season.
Once the trees are tapped, we collect the sap each afternoon around 5pm. Weather is the most important factor in determining how much sap we get. Sugar Makers like the numbers 40/20. Highs of 40 degrees or above in the daytime and lows of 20 degrees at night. The twigs and branches have to freeze at night.
Some days it runs poor and other days very good. With 200 taps some days we may get as high as 170 gallons and others only 40 gallons. Season generally begins in mid-March and last 4 weeks long, however, no two Maple Seasons are exactly alike; each one is different depending on Mother Nature. The season can start as early as February or as late as the end of March/early April.
After the sap is gathered we have to boil it to remove the water. We use 219 degrees in temperature, and 66% sugar content, as our guide to when the Maple Syrup is finished. The longer you boil the water out, the thicker the batch gets and it will hold a higher temperature as it gets thicker.
To produce a gallon of syrup, sugar makers use an industry standard of 40 to 1. In other words you need 40 gallons of sap to produce a gallon of syrup. We do better than that at our sugar bush, and it takes closer to 30 gallons of sap (because it’s sweeter). The sap that comes out of Papa’s trees are usually 4% or higher in sugar content. This is higher than normal.
While it’s boiling, we have to keep adding wood to the fire, skim the foam off the sap, and continue adding sap to the pan as the water evaporates.
We use the flat pan because syrup cooked slower produces a better tasting syrup. We fire with wood and some of that smoke ends up in our product. When you cook it slower it breaks down the molecules, releasing more of the true flavor of the Maple.