Question: What is Maple Syrup?
Answer: Maple Syrup is a sweet syrup created using sap produced by maple trees, a species found in eastern North America.
Question: What is sap and why do maple trees produce it?
Answer: Sap is used by plants to transport nutrients. Throughout the summer months, the maple trees produce sugars as a source of nutrition during photosynthesis. Trees store this sugar for use during next spring’s growth period. In late winter and early spring, ground water dilutes the stored sugar creating sap. The sap found in maple trees is roughly 1.5%-3% sugar and 97%-98.5% water. As the sap begins to flow, maple syrup producers such as Jakeman’s begin tapping their trees. Don’t worry, maple trees are very efficient food producers, making far more sap than they can use.
Question: What is tapping?
Answer: The process of tapping begins by boring small holes into the maple trees. Jakeman’s uses a gasoline powered drill to tap roughly 8’000 holes. A spile (also referred to as a tap or spigot) is then tapped snugly into each hole to which a bucket, bag or tubing is attached. Here at Jakeman’s, a vacuum pump is used to carry the sap throughout our tubing system. The sap is brought to a holding tank or directly to our sugar shanty. In total, Jakeman’s uses about 50km worth of tubing.
Question: The trees are tapped. What’s next?
Answer: Let the sap flow, one drop at a time! Thawing days and freezing nights brings on sap runs. We are totally at the mercy of the weather. A freeze up stops the run. If the weather is too warm, this can also stop the sap flow. During the 6 week long season, we get every type of weather, including some ideal syrup making days.
With the sap run underway, we have no time to waste. Sap must be boiled within hours of being collected to prevent spoilage. The task at hand is to remove water by turning it into steam. The automatic draw off constantly monitors the temperature of the boiling syrup.When the syrup reaches 7F° above the boiling point of water, it is let out. The hot syrup is pumped through a filter press making it sparkling clear for bottling.
4000L of Sap boils down to 100L of Maple Syrup.