MAPLE SYRUP TIME!

(Post 2 of 3 for my new Reader who likes the “Food Part.”)

Come with me to a Maple Syrup Festival today!!     This will be a photographic tour,  so not too many words from me.

From the Website of  our local nature center:

SAMSUNG The trail map:

SAMSUNGI didn’t think I would need this map.   It had too many miles on it!!      But the parking lots were full to overflowing, and I found a place to park very far away from the syrup festival.

I walked through many parking lots but didn’t mind very much.   Good exercise,  good weather,  and interesting things to look at:

SAMSUNGThis looks like fun for some other day.

Walking on and on and on,  I finally came to a Do Not Enter road:

SAMSUNGSo of course I headed that way.

At last I saw a tent –  seemed like a good sign.

SAMSUNGIt turned out to be a place to eat —  What else?

SAMSUNGAnd what  do you eat at a  Maple Syrup Festival?     Flap jacks, sausage, and maple syrup.

Outdoor dining:

SAMSUNGOutdoor dining in winter jackets.   This is the Far  North, after all.    It smelled good, but I didn’t come to eat,  so I went on in search of those who were making the syrup.

SAMSUNGThe pathways through the woods were rather nice,   nice and long,  so you had to keep looking for the little yellow signs near the ground.

Ever watch that television series called “Grimm”  ?

SAMSUNGNever mind.

It wasn’t really that scary.    . . . In the daylight.

SAMSUNGThat red “house” up ahead was the educational headquarters for maple syrup making.     Earnest volunteers presented good information.

SAMSUNGWe were given the opportunity to try our hand at drilling tap holes.

Which is why there were many trees like this:

SAMSUNGYou make a hole (somehow)  and then choose a tap:

SAMSUNG

Here’s a cross section of what happens when you insert a tap into a tree trunk:

SAMSUNGThose dark gray rectangles are the taps.  How do you know how many taps to use on a tree?

SAMSUNGThere are measurements and formulas based on those measurements…   Unfortunately, the young volunteer was not very good at math.    He was college-aged, I’d guess,  but he couldn’t explain to someone what  diameter or  radius meant, but he offered to the person that orange tape measure.  That’s okay.  He did clarify for me that the taps break into the phloem, which results in the “leakage” of the sap into the tap and out into the attached bucket.

SAMSUNGThese buckets are covered so no one has to stay there for a few days shooing away the bugs and flies.

SAMSUNGBuckets on many of the trees.

And here’s what you do with all the sap that you’ve collected:

SAMSUNGIf you don’t have fancy equipment or a big enough kitchen,  you boil the sap over a wood fire.

SAMSUNGOr you can use a modern “evaporator.”   Either way there is the wonderful smell of wood smoke and maple syrup in the air.

Although,  we were told,  one can tap into other kinds of trees,  even walnut,  the maples have the most sugar in their sap.   So here’s a good look at a maple stand in case you’d like to recognize when you’re in one:

SAMSUNG(I’m told it’s easier to recognize when the leaves are out!)

So – let’s eat!

SAMSUNG(Or let’s buy!)

Lots of maple products for sale.    Candy, syrup,  maple butter,  and even maple granulated sugar – with recipes for its use.

This table had maple syrup root beer:

SAMSUNGSomehow I came out with two bags full of maple stuff.      (This comes only once a year, right?)

Then it was time to find my way back to the car.

SAMSUNG

It really was a lovely walk.

SAMSUNG

It would have been so easy to have stayed home,  but it was very worthwhile to go to the Festival.

Sometimes I like the way our tax dollars are spent.

(Next time I’ll tell you why we have to work so hard to get our maple syrup from the trees.)

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