Spring brings the maple sap run and Dutch Hill Preserves bottles more and more syrup every year to meet the increasing demand. Our syrup is a blend of both Sugar Maple (Acer sac arum) and Red Maple (Acer rub rum) sap. The sap is collected with tap and bucket and boiled down over a wood-fired evaporator. The distinct flavor is one you’ll surely come back for.
HOW MAPLE SYRUP IS MADE
We typically begin the ‘maple season’ in late February or early March by drilling small holes into the side of mature maple trees. A spout or tap is then driven into the hole and provides an exit for the sap to flow. A bucket with lid is then positioned underneath each tap to collect the dripping sap. Weather is critical for this sap collection. A tapped tree does not ‘drip’ everyday and surely it is not a consistent amount collected on a daily basis. Ideally a daytime high in the 40’s F and nighttime lows below 32 F provide the best sap collection. These temperatures allow the sap to travel up and down the tree starting in the roots and working its way to the branches, we then collect right in the middle as the tree begins to wake up after a long winter. Each bucket full of sap is then dumped into a larger gathering tank where it awaits to be concentrated.
Sap is concentrated using a wood-fired evaporator. Once up and running, sap is continually feed to the evaporator pan where the hot flames underneath boil the sap and evaporate the water. The process is very labor intensive as dry wood has to be added every 5-10 minutes to keep the fire as hot as possible. As the sap becomes concentrated it is measured using a hydrometer. The hydrometer indicates when the sap turns to syrup. Once syrup level is reached: it is filtered, bottled and ready to serve! Although sugar content varies between species of maple tree and even from tree to tree of the same species, maple sap is approximately 98% water and 2% sugar. When the syrup is finished, it is only 33% water and 67% sugar. Because of this it generally requires between 40 and 50 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of finished syrup.
The length of the sugaring season is totally dependent upon the weather. It can last anywhere between 2 and 8 weeks. As the spring days become increasingly warmer, the buds on of the maple trees begin to swell, marking the end of the season.