Maple sugaring | Leelanau County

  1. March 17, 2014

    Maple sugaring- tap used for sap collection

    Each Spring in Northern Michigan brings excitement for Maple sugaring in Leelanau County. “Maple sugaring” is the name given to the collection and cooking of maple sap to produce syrup. The Native Americans were the first to innovate this process, prior to the arrival of European settlers on American soil.

    In cold climates such as ours, maple trees store starch in their trunk and roots before the long winter. The starch is eventually converted to sugar in the form of sap. Maple sugaring in Leelanau County is a simple but relatively long process, but well worth the reward of that beautiful amber colored liquid that is a delicious Northern Michigan staple.

    The sap is collected by “tapping” the tree. Our sap run begins in late winter/very early spring, usually sometime in late February to the end of March. The sap is collected into buckets or bags. Some farms like to use plastic tubing from the tap to the collection vessel but a simple metal tap like the one pictured above works well, too. Once the sap is collected, the long process of heating the sap to evaporate the water begins.  A long shallow pan aids in evaporation due to increased surface area. Evaporating the water from the sap can take many hours; the syrup is determined as finished when it reaches a certain sugar content and color.

    It can take up to 10 gallons of sap to yield one quart of syrup. The sap is boiled at about 220 degrees, which is about 7 degrees higher than the boiling point of water. Under-boiling can produce a watery syrup while overcooking produces crystallization.

    Andy’s friend Russell Madson was kind enough to invite him along for the harvesting and cooking of the sap. Some more images of Maple sugaring in Leelanau County are below. If you are interested in purchasing some Michigan maple syrup, check out this site. Enjoy!

    Maple sugaring time- buckets hang from a maple tree under taps

    Maple sugaring time - fire under the evaporator is being lit

    Maple sugaring time - harvested sap being poured into the evaporator

    Maple sugaring time - harvested sop is being poured into the evaporator

    Maple sugaring time - the evaporator is a large flat pan

    Maple sugaring time - the temperature must be carefully controlled on the evaporator

    Maple sugaring time - the evaporator heats up

    Maple sugaring time - the fire must be stoked often under the evaporator

    Maple Syrup03

    Maple sugaring time - Russell Madson works the evaporator