photos/courtesy of Sugarbush Mgmt Class
photos/courtesy of Sugarbush Mgmt Class

Well, it’s confirmed. The first bottles of maple syrup this season have been made and bottled. Let’s take a look back at the past couple of weeks’ progress. Below are modified exerpts from the Sugarbush Managment class blog.

Week 3, Tamara Thomas and Shelby Barner: On Thursday, the class went over estimating the amount of firewood needed for the sugaring season. We also discussed and put into practice some firewood splitting techniques. Everyone in the class had the chance to practice these new skills on their own piece of wood! Unfortunately due to the freezing temperatures, 0 gallons of sap were collected, 0 gallons of syrup were produced, and no firewood was consumed. Some of us went to check on the buckets and found that no sap had been running and the little amount of sap that was present was completely frozen.

Week 4, Hayley Scheck and Nadine Tidwell: The buckets are all put up now and most of the lines. The class continued to learn how to put up lines and which connectors to use for different scenarios in the tree lines. We learned how much wood we’d need to boil all the sap we collect. In addition, we were introduced to the business project portion of this class.

Week 5, Shane Reisen and Aean McMullin: We are almost to the point of boiling and will most likely start that soon, once our stores of sap become a bit larger. We tapped some new trees and repaired the main line. We also got to bring out our inner lumberjack while we split wood at the Main Bush. While some were chopping wood, others were measuring the brix values of some of the bucket-tapped trees to determine the sugar content of the sap. Unfortunately, the flow of sap was less than satisfactory, and only yielded 42 gallons.

Week 6: This week a total of about 70 gallons of sap were collected from the two bushes. Later on in the week, the class had the opportunity to boil down the sap into maple syrup for the first time. Beginning the boiling process at 10 AM, the students took hour long rotations, finishing earlier than expected, at 9PM, because of a frozen hose. The class successfully made approximately 4 gallons of syrup. The students also finalized their business plans and decided which products they will be producing. Fun fact: When the sap is 7 degrees above boiling, about 219 F, the conditions are perfect for the sap to become syrup. Any hotter and the sap will burn. Any cooler and the sap may not boil.

Week 7, Candace Grennie and Natalie Gill: This week we went on two collection runs. The first collection yielded 32 gallons of sap. Temperatures rose by the second collection run and the sap was no longer dripping out of the spiels and tubes; it was actually running in a small current. We were able to collect 48 gallons of sap in total. While we were out collecting sap, a group of our fellow classmates started bottling the boiled sap (or syrup). As a class we bottled 26 bottles of syrup. The syrup looked really cool, especially if you held it up to the sun. It’s exciting to finally see everything coming together and that all of our hard work and frozen fingers are proving worth it.

Image courtesy of Julia Suber