Here at Carousel Watergardens Farm we have produced maple syrup for over 25 years. We tap our maple trees on the farmstead by the house and in our woods as well as tap my uncle’s maple trees, and some of our surrounding neighbor’s maple woods within a 10 mile radius of our farm.
We spend about a week tapping the trees beginning usually around February 4th. As demand for our maple syrup has increased so has the number of taps we put out each year. Last year we had about 750 taps out. We collect the maple sap by walking the woods with 5 gallon buckets and then dumping them into larger holding tanks on our big trailer. This makes for very long tedious collection days usually starting at 6 a.m. and by the time we fill our 3 large tanks which is usually about dusk we then head back to fill the larger holding tank that feeds the evaporator.
When this tank is filled we usually pull an all-nighter boiling the sap into maple. We do not have our own evaporator so a group of us have gone together and have a central place we dump and then we take turns running the evaporator. We run our batches through separately but it is a collaborative effort and this works to everyone’s benefit.
Over the past 25 years we have had some good long seasons and some short seasons. 2012 was a very short season starting
February 5th and ending by March 1st it was about a 3 week season. 2013 was a long, long season starting about February 5th and running through end of April about 8-9weeks. We collected just about every other day and were pretty worn out by the time the season was over. It was a good running year though. We figured it up and between the two of us we carried over 9,723 pounds of sap a day and then poured it in
the tanks. We had arms that looked like a silver back gorillas as far as dragging the ground. We were just plum worn out at the end of last season. We finished just in time to start spring planting in the fields so there was no break last year to re-coop.
Most good years the ratio to make maple syrup is about 40 gallons of maple sap to boil down into 1 gallon of maple syrup with the ratio being a bit higher by the end of the season. In 2012 we went from 40 gallons to about 52 gallons by the end of the short season. In 2013 it ran between 42 gallons to about 47 gallons by the end of the season. Although maple syrup is always delicious my opinion is the 2012 batch was best over 2013 but it’s all good when it’s used.
We drill a 5/16 inch hole in the tree and tap a tree saver plastic spigot in to which we hang a plastic collection bag to collect the sap. Some years the sweet maples run first other years the hard maples run first in 2013 the hard maples ran plenty but the sweet maples didn’t run very much at least for us. In order for sap to run we need cold nights below freezing and warm days above freezing. Then the trees usually run about 8-12 hours before we need a good freeze again. We take a brick reading also to see what the sugar content of the sap is. After our maple sap is turned into maple syrup it is removed from the evaporator and poured into a heater box to keep it at 180 degrees so we can pour it into our jugs and bottles to sell here at the farm and also at our farmers markets. We offer pure Ohio Maple syrup and maple cream.
We make many maple dishes but one of our favorites is maple pumpkin cream pie. It is very addicting and quite truthfully it doesn’t last long around here. Cathy also makes maple candy and maple coated pecans & cashews but in the past few years with all the produce and livestock to tend to she hasn’t had alot of time to make it.