By Michael Douglas, Teacher at the Maine Primitive Skills School
Winter is loosening its icy grip. There is a sigh of relief, we made it through another one. Even better, spring is coming. Make this transition into warmer weather exciting: Go outside and find the maple trees in the woods. This is the time to make sugar and syrup. And it is easier and more fun than you think.
March is when red maples and sugar maples are both waking up from winter dormancy. The sap flows best when the days are above freezing and the nights are below freezing.
Maples are common and a great source sap and sugar. It takes about 33 gallons of sugar maple sap to make one gallon of syrup and about 38 gallons of red maple sap to get the same. At the Maine Primitive Skills School, we get these amounts with 10 trees in less than a week. After four weeks of good sap flow, we produce about a gallon of syrup each week.
In the end, it costs between $20-$30 for 16 ounces of syrup. This is a great way to save money, and it is a means of spending quality time outdoors.
What you’ll need:
Buckets (metal or glass are best)
Spires (also called taps, you can find them in your local farm supply store or online for about $1-2 a piece. They’re foolproof.)
A stainless steel pot
What to do:
We’ll be sharing the process of making syrup and sugar as well as foraging for early spring edibles and traditionally used medicinal plants in our, “Early Spring Foraging” class April 2-6 in Augusta. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.primitiveskills.com.