It's time for MAPLE SEASON in Vermont!
What does Maple Season in Vermont look like?
Well, it’s late winter or early spring. There’s probably still snow on the ground.
THIS is the prime time for tapping maple trees ... the temperatures at night are still below freezing, but during the day they warm up to the 40s. This is the perfect weather for sap collection, which usually lasts about 4-6 weeks (depending on the weather fluctuation that season).
Why is this the perfect weather? See illustration below …
But what IS tapping?
According to Barred Woods Maple (which is where we get OUR wonderful maple syrup!): “Tapping is the process of going to each maple tree, drilling a very small ¼” hole in the tree, and inserting a spout (also called a spile) into the hole to collect the sap coming out of the tree.”
So then what happens?
Well, if it’s just you tapping a tree and collecting sap, you put a bucket up to that spile, soak up the sweet smell, and get ready to boil the sap down to syrup over an outside fire (bc there will be TONS of water evaporation!).
But that’s not how it works for places like Barred Woods Maple. They have a system!
“To harvest maple syrup, you start with putting up tubing in the woods to transport the sap to the sugarhouse or collection tank. Around the first of the year, you start tapping trees. It will take a month to tap all 14,000 trees. Once we start getting temperatures above freezing we will turn on the vacuum pump to pull the sap to the sugarhouse. Once the tanks are full, we will start boiling the sap into maple syrup. As it comes off the evaporator, it is filtered and stored in stainless steel barrels. The barrels are stored until we are ready to bottle it.”
So what exactly is a day in the life of a maple harvester like?
Barred Woods Maple told us: “Depending on the time of the year, a day's work can be very different. During the sugaring season, a day consists of getting up early to collect the sap and starting the vacuum pumps up. Getting the evaporator ready to [boil]. This takes about 1 to 2 hours because after each boil, the evaporator is taken apart and cleaned thoroughly. Throughout the whole day, the vacuum pumps are monitored for vacuum and if it goes down, someone will need to go out in the woods and find the leak and fix it. This is generally a daily event. It can be caused by a tree falling on a line or a bear biting the line or any number of things. Once all the sap tanks are almost full, we will boil the sap into syrup and then clean all the tanks and equipment. A big sugaring day can be from 7am to 1am. Meanwhile, in the background, we are still bottling, making candy, sugar, cream and shipping it out.”
Wow! That is a lot of hard work, don’t ya think?! Barred Woods Maple is just one of the many (roughly 3,000) sugar houses that is devoted to growing and maintaining maple trees, as well as harvesting their sap and creating syrup for others to enjoy. And did you know that over 50% of all maple syrup (the good stuff) is produced in VERMONT?!
Want to know more? Click on the links below for additional information: