Park visitors learn all about making maple syrup
From finding the right tree to sample pancakes, a group of visitors to Chapman State Park learned all about making maple syrup on Friday.
Chapman Environmental Education Specialist Jen Moore hosted Rick Rupprecht of Uncle Rick’s Sugar House.
A group of 13 youngsters and seven adults accompanied Rupprecht on a walk along the park’s Storywalk trail where Moore had tapped several trees. He explained how to tell which trees were maples — from the leaves, to the bark, and the splitting of branches.
Along the way, he pointed out a birch tree and said its sap, too, can be used to make syrup.
The Storywalk’s current book is about the maple sugaring process and Rupprecht sometimes stopped to show one or more of the kids the message on a page.
A little past the half-way point of the walk, Rupprecht came to the first of several of Moore’s taps.
He showed the group the buckets, the spiles — taps, let the kids taste the sap, and explained that the season for collecting the sap is very short — from about mid-February to mid-March. He said the right tree under the right conditions can fill a bucket in half a day.
Rupprecht showed the group a one-gallon bottle of sap. It looks like water. Essentially, the impurities in that water are the good stuff. He then showed them a small jar with a little bit of syrup in the bottom and explained that was all he gets from a gallon of sap.
Moore had three pans of sap boiling over open flames for the group. The water boils off, leaving the sugar.
That process just goes on – with whoever is making the syrup adding sap every so often – until the water is gone. If the water gets too low, the sugars can burn.
Rupprecht showed the class a bottle of syrup he had made on Thursday and each of the visitors got a small sample.
To top it off, Volunteer Amanda Lindemuth had pancakes waiting as delivery systems for syrup made at Chapman.