Saturday, March 11, 2006


Next step was where they displayed how the little plugs are attached to the trees trailing tubing throughout the “bush”. They drill a hole into the tree and insert the little blue, plastic plug. This plug is attached to the black tubing and you’re in business. Every year the plug is removed after sugaring season and the tree allowed to heal itself. I guess it forms a bit of a callus, and the section of the tree about one inch out from the center of the hole essentially dies. The new plug must be placed at least 5 inches from that wound next year, or it won’t work.
The black plastic tubing is a constant worry. All kinds of animals, even human, create problems with it. There are often holes found, put there by the teeth of everything from bobcats to foxes. Beavers sometimes build dams causing floods that freeze, stopping the flow! Another time, someone had burned the tubing, causing it to melt. And on and on. Anyway, if there’s a hole in the tube, the vacuum won’t work and the syrup squirts out. This means that the maze of tubing must be checked often.
Part of the tubing in the ante-room (or shed, if you’d prefer) is clear, allowing you to see the sap flowing through. It looked like water, with the same consistency. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup! Not much sap was flowing as we looked. It had been warm a few nights. In order to have good flow, the temperatures must drop below 32 degrees at night and climb above that temperature during the next day. If this doesn’t happen the sap does not flow up and down enough to be tapped. Eastern Canada and areas close to New England are the only areas of the world that produce Maple Syrup! I wasn’t aware of that, were you? The season lasts about 5-6 weeks from late February into early April. Some years are better than others, which is why some years the price of Maple Syrup is exorbitant.
Another thing I learned is that Grade B syrup is really much better than Grade A. It has much better flavor. Also the grading is for COLOR! Every day the grade will be different and it depends on the temperature of the environment. They have a hard time getting enough Grade B, which is what all their local (those “in the know”) customers want. In fact the farmer has his/her own “stock” that is called “Super B” that is used for cooking. So when you buy Maple Syrup, and have a choice, try Grade B.


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