Music to the sugar master’s ear is the first sound of the Red Winged blackbird which is nature’s way of announcing that maple tree sap has started to run. We are blessed with having many sugar maple bushes throughout Dufferin County which is why maple syrup hobbyist really enjoy this time of year.
During winter maple trees are dormant. When spring arrives and temperatures rise above zero degrees pressure builds up in the trees and causes the sap to flow. At night when the temperature dips below zero it creates negative pressure which causes the sap to be drawn back into the roots of the tree. This constant flow allows for the collection of sap on warm spring days.
Nature’s way of announcing the end of the sap collection is the awakening of frogs. The “frog run” is the result of temperatures staying above freezing at night which causes the sap to remain at the crown of the maple tree where it then turns to bud sap. Bud sap doesn’t have the same high concentration of sugar so the boiling process takes a greater period of time and there is also a noticeable change in flavor.
It takes 40 litres of sap to make one litre of maple syrup so that is why the sugar master often refers to it as “liquid gold”. The sugar master is the person who has the expertise of knowing how long to boil sap. The most effective way to boil sap is in an evaporator that is either heated by burning wood or by using propane.
Local maple syrup was available at the Island Lake Conservation Area’s maple syrup festival that ran Saturday, March 12 and concluded on Sunday, March 20.