Pure maple syrup, try to envision eating a stack of pancakes without it?
It is truly one of nature’s tastiest bounties and for students in the Project Explore Program at Oswego County BOCES, making this sweet goodness might actually be more fun than eating it.
Project Explore Teacher KC Jones introduced his students to the industry of maple syrup production in early March, when the ground was still frozen and the snow was still flying.
The students and Jones snow-shoed into the wooded property that extends behind the BOCES’ campus in Mexico in search of sugar maple trees at least 10 inches in diameter.
Distinguishing the sugar maples by the characteristics of the bark, the students tapped 89 trees in preparation for the spring thaw. The students drilled the holes for the taps, hooked up tubing and collection buckets and then they waited, they waited for Mother Nature to unleash her grip on winter.
That moment finally arrived in mid-March when the sun began to shine and daytime temperatures climbed above freezing.
The sap began to run and the students began the feverish syrup-making process.
The students collected sap daily, fired up the wood-burning evaporator and began the slow and methodical boiling process.
The students monitored the evaporator until the sap reached a desired sugar concentration.
To determine this the students a utilized a scientific instrument known as a hydrometer.
Unlike a thermometer which measures temperature, a hydrometer measures the weight or density of a liquid.
Based on the students’ calculations through the project they determined that approximately 40 gallons of sugar maple sap would yield one gallon of pure maple syrup.
By the end of March the students had produced eight gallons of syrup and are not even close to being finished.
The sunny and warmer daytime temperatures and the freezing temperatures at night are creating optional sap producing conditions.
The students will be continuing production until the sap quite literally stops running.
At the end of this classroom project the students will bottle the gallons into smaller containers.
This involves re-heating the syrup to 180 degrees and bottling it into sterilized containers and then sealing.