Kaukauna, Wisconsin — Last week, unseasonably warm weather in some parts of the country led to some maple syrup producers to start tapping their maple trees which usually does not happen until the middle of February. However, the recent Arctic blast that has gripped a third of the nation has some of them wondering if they have “jumped the gun”.
When asked about this, Angela K. Murphy Schumacher of Smoky Lake Maple Products, a small maple syrup producer and maple syrup equipment fabricator located in Northeastern Wisconsin said “It is hard to say. We have had a few customers tell us they have already started tapping and others are waiting for the usual time. It’s like this every year though.”
“Maple producers are very passionate about their work and are eager to get started. Nobody wants to miss out on a good sap run.” Schumacher continued. “Unfortunately, tapping to early can be a problem because the tap hole could have started to heal closed by the time peak flow really comes. “
“I have not heard of anybody that I know in upstate NY tapping before the cold snap” said Mary Ross of the Mohawk Valley Trading Company of Utica, NY where their maple syrup is made primarily from sugar maple sap. “If all goes well, were looking at about a couple of weeks before we start.”
Officials believe that the sub-zero temperatures have been responsible for four deaths to date and at least two fires in southern Wisconsin.
About Smoky Lake Maple Products
Smoky Lake Maple Products is a small maple syrup producer and maple syrup equipment fabricator located in Northeastern Wisconsin. Quality is at the forefront of all they do, and they stand proud behind the craftsmanship of each and every Smoky Lake product.
In addition to maple syrup, they offer a full line of very high quality maple syrup equipment, from bag collection frames to bottlers and evaporation pans. Smoky Lake Maple Products stays on top of industry technology so that they can incorporate new features in their products that will save their customers time and money. By keeping maple syrup production fun and affordable for both hobbyists and commercial producers alike, they are able to share their passion for maple syrup.
About Maple Syrup
The production of maple syrup in North America predates European colonization. Early Native American societies in Canada and the northeastern United States were distilling maple syrup and sugar before those geographic boundaries existed. Maple sugar is made from the controlled crystallization of maple syrup and takes several forms.There is no written record of the first syrup production but several native legends persist. Many tribes celebrated the short maple sap collection season with specific rituals.
The Native Americans collected maple sap from v-shaped notches carved into maple trees. The sap was diverted into birch bark buckets using bark or reeds. It was concentrated by placing hot stones into the buckets or by freezing the sap and removing the ice, which is composed only of water.
Sugar maple sap is preferred for maple syrup production because it has an average sugar content of two percent. Sap from other maple species is usually lower in sugar content, and about twice as much is needed to produce the same amount of finished syrup.
When Europeans reached northeastern America they adapted native techniques to make their own maple syrup. The v-shaped notches were replaced with auger-drilled holes. This practice is less damaging to the trees. Bark buckets were replaced with seamless wooden buckets carved from lumber rounds. The method of sap concentration also changed from passive to active. Large amounts of sap were collected and brought to a single area where it was boiled over fires in round cauldrons until reduced to the desired consistency. ‘Sugar shacks’ were built expressly for the purpose of sap boiling. Draft animals were often used to haul fire wood and large containers of sap for sugaring. Maple syrup was an important food additive in early America because imported cane sugar was not yet available.
In the mid-1800’s syrup production changed again. Round cauldrons were replaced by flat pans in order to increase surface area and therefore allow for faster evaporation. Over the next 60 year several variations on this design were patented. Draft animals were replaced by tractors and heating methods expanded to include propane, oil and natural gas as well as wood.
The 1970’s represent another period of major changes in maple syrup production. Plastic tubing running directly from trees to the sugaring location eliminated the need for energy and time intensive sap collection. Reverse osmosis and pre-heating made syrup production more efficient. Recent advances have been made in sugarbush (maple trees used primarily for syrup production) management, filtration and storage.
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