The thermometer may not yet suggest that spring has come to the Adirondacks, but a sure sign of winter's impending demise is the wood smoke rising from the local sugar shacks. Mid March usually brings the optimum conditions, when temperatures are still below freezing at night, but the daytime thaw gets the sap flowing in the sugar maples. A healthy mature maple can produce over a gallon of sap a day, and the sugaring season can run for a month or more. It takes a lot of sap to produce maple syrup, and the forty or so gallons that a tree yields each season will produce a single gallon of syrup. The sap, which should have a sugar content of something more that 2%, must be boiled down in an evaporator until the sugar content is 60% or more. Commercial producers use many different fuel sources to boil off the sap, but traditionalists insist that wood is best, in part because it adds a slightly smoky flavor to the finished product. I agree.
|An 1889 Wood Fired Evaporator|