Discover How to Make Maple Syrup in the Woods by Marilyn Ostermiller
Here’s my writer friend Marilyn with an interesting post on how maple syrup is made.
Something magical is happening deep in the woods from now through mid-March throughout the Northeast and Upper Midwest. One special tree, the Sugar Maple, gives us a sweet, clear liquid that can be boiled down into maple syrup to enjoy over pancakes, waffles and French toast. Sap runs from the roots up through the trunk when the temperature reaches at least 40 degrees during the day, but still slips below freezing at night.
Legend has it Native Americans discovered how to extract the sweet treat from these trees. They were making it long before the Pilgrims arrived.
Many parks and nature centers offer hands-on demonstrations that are ideal for families. Even young children enjoy it.
They learn how easy it is to:
• Identify and tap maple trees
• Insert the correct spouts for the sap to drip out
A staffer at the Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center in Chatham attaches a spout to a sugar maple tree so the sap can drip out. The demonstrations, which continue through March 8 attract a lot of families.
• Collect it in a pail
• Use a wood-fired stove to boil the water out of the sap to create buttery smooth maple syrup
Before you go:
• Confirm the demonstration will be held as scheduled
• Dress for the weather. Wear warm clothing and waterproof boots
• Be prepared to be outdoors for at least an hour
• Plan to arrive at least 20 minutes before demonstration
• There is a charge for some demonstrations
• Check to find out whether advance registration required
Among the upcoming demonstrations scheduled in New Jersey:
• Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center, 247 Southern Boulevard, Chatham, N.J. Program Saturdays and Sundays through March 8, 2 p.m. Fee: $3. Call (973) 635-6629.
• Somerset County Environmental Education Center, 190 Lord Stirling Rd., Basking Ridge, NJ. Saturdays 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.; Sundays at noon and 2 p.m. every weekend through March 15. Call (908) 766-2489.
• Howell Living History Farm, 70 Wooden’s Lane, Lambertville, NJ. Feb. 21, 28. tree tapping, 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m.; Sap gathering, noon, 2 p.m.; Sugar house open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call (609) 737-3299, http://www.howellfarm.com
• Tenafly Nature Center, 313 Hudson Ave., Tenafly, NJ. Sundays, through March 15, 12:30p.m., 2 p.m., 3:30 p.m. Members $5/Non-members $10 per person. Pancake Brunch and Maple Sugaring, March 22, 10:30 a.m., $10/$15 per person. Call (201) 568-6093, http://www.tenaflynaturecenter.org
• Nature Center at Washington Crossing State Park, 355 Washington Crossing Pennington Rd., Titusville, NJ. Saturdays and Sundays, through March 14, 1 p.m. Call (609) 737-0609,
• Lusscroft Farm Maple Sugarin’ Open House, 50 Nielsen Road and 4-H Trail, Wantage, N.J. March 14-15, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call (973) 22-4732 http://www.lusscroftfarm.com.
A volunteer at the Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center in Chatham cooks the water out of sap over an outdoor cook stove until is becomes buttery smooth maple syrup.
Among the children’s books on maple sugaring, available online:
• “Sugaring” The story of how a young girl helps her grandfather collect sap from sugar maple trees from a Vermont farm to make maple syrup. It is 24-pages and likely to appeal to children from four to eight years old. Written by Jesse Haas, Illustrated by Jos. A. Smith, Published by Green Willow Books.
• “A Day at the Sugar Camp”: This illustrated book for children four to eight years old tells of the tradition Woodland Native Americans had of returning each year, late in the winter, to their sugar camp to make maple syrup. Written by Jessica Deimer-Eaton, Published by the Woodland Indian Educational Programs.
This post was prepared by Marilyn Ostermiller, a long-time business journalist who has begun writing for children. You can follow her on Twitter @Marilyn_Suzanne.