The sap will begin to run or flow out of the trees when conditions are right, cold nights (temperatures below freezing) and warm days. Once the sap begins flowing into the tubes or collecting in the buckets, it must be processed right away.
Maple producers use evaportators to make syrup. Usually an evaporator is made up of two or more large, specially designed pans that sits over a fire. The pans hold the sap that has come in from the trees and is now ready to boil. As it boils the water portion of the sap will turn into steam and rises up out of the sugar camp.
As the sap is boiled, the sap becomes thicker and sweeter. Boiling sap must be watched closely as it can easily burn. Processing the sap into syrup takes a lot of time and energy. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of pure maple syrup.
Syrup can be made into other products simply by boiling it further. Maple candy is simply pure maple syrup boiled until it reaches a thicker consistency. If it is heated even further you can make Maple sugar, which is used just like brown sugar only better!
At our sugar camp located in Somerset, PA we use both buckets as well as tubing to collect the sap from the trees. Our season varies on duration according to the weather. Our typical tapping begins in early February and may last up to six weeks. It is a neighborhood event, with the older generations teaching the youngest helpers! We take pride in preserving this art and the wonderful natural products we all love!
Making “spotza” is another sweet treat that you get just before the syrup reaches the point of making sugar. Spotza is like a taffy form, very sweet! This photo shows the maple producers using water and drizzling the very hot syrup into, it will then crystallize forming a spotza!
Once the hot syrup is ready they move it off the heat and let it rise. Once is has risen the stirring begins. Stirring continues until you get the sugar to the desired fineness.