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About Maple Syrup and a boy in the 1950’s…

November 5, 2011

Here is a guest post from Dad.  He wrote this for Chichi since she is doing a project on maple syrup.  This post is almost as sweet as the stuff itself.  Thanks Dad…

Maple syrup is a brown, sweet and sticky fluid. It comes from a special maple tree called red or sugar maple. The sap is used by the tree to make flowers, leaves, branches and growth of the tree. The province of Quebec is the major supplier of syrup in the world. Ontario is second and some is made in Vermont and some in Maine. It is put on pancakes and sometimes it is used as a dessert. It is much, much better than the fake syrups that are in common use. It cost about $25.00 a litre and takes a lot to boil it down. Forty (40) litres from the maple tree makes one (1) litre of maple syrup. It was first used as a sweetener, along with honey by the Indians. They hollowed out logs and put the sap in the log to freeze first. They did not have iron kettles. The water in the sap would freeze first and they threw the frozen water away. Then they put very hot rocks in the remaining sap to cause it to boil and to turn into syrup.

When I was a boy from 6 – 12, I used to watch my father make maple syrup in a more modern method. We had a “sugaring off” building in the bush that held all of our wood for burning and the evapourators. During my teenage years, in the 1950’s I used to make syrup on the Saturdays by myself. It was very peaceful and quiet. It was a good place to study my Shakespeare and Latin for my Easter exams at school. The snow was about 1 metre deep in March (it is only about 10 cm or less these years in March).

We drilled holes into the tree and then put “spiles” in the holes to collect the sap. The spiles had hooks on them that we hung buckets with lids. We would use a team of horses and a sleigh with a tank on it to collect the sap. The snow was too deep to use a tractor, but they could use a tractor now. The horses and sleigh would go up high on an incline so that we could run the sap downhill into the evaporators. The sap would travel back and forth about four times before we placed it into a smaller evapourator. It was starting to resemble maple syrup. When it was done enough we would finish it in a second smaller pan and then we had maple syrup! It would take about half a day to turn sap into syrup.

To-day, the use pipelines, stainless steel tanks and propane gas to make maple syrup.

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