Sugar Maple Tree Tapping
THE SUGAR MAPLE TREE
The art of sugar maple tree tapping begins with the famous sugar maple tree. It is the natural resource used to make Brantview Farms Maple syrup made from 100% pure, single-source maple syrup. Brantview Farms Maple waits until trees are 10-12 inches in diameter (20-40 years old) before tapping them. Tapping is when we drill a small hole into the trunk of the sugar maple tree. After the hole is created, we then insert a small spout to catch the sap that begins to collect in the hole. The spout connects to plastic pipes stretching through the woods, called tubing. We limit the number of taps placed in one tree according to the size of the tree so that it will not be damaged. Tapping maple trees properly does not affect tree health. The sap collected is only a small fraction of the total amount of sap in a sugar maple tree.
If the maple trees are taken care of properly, the same tree can be tapped year after year. At Brantview Farms Maple there are over 10,000 tree taps. At Brantview Farms Maple, sugar maple tree tapping occurs over 10,000 sugar maple trees. All sap is sourced locally at Brantview Farms Maple 300-acres of sugar maple woods.
MAPLE SYRUP SEASON & WEATHER
Each spring in Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands, Brantview Farms Maple crew heads to the woods for the start of maple syrup season. Generally, the maple season lasts from mid-February to early April. The sap starts to “run” or flow out of the tapped holes when the weather is just right - cold nights (with temperatures below freezing) and warm days (with temperatures above freezing) so the sap will flow.
MAKING 100% PURE, SINGLE SOURCE MAPLE SYRUP
Sap from the sugar maple tree is about 98 percent water and two percent sugar, other nutrients and minerals such as potassium, zinc, calcium, and amino acids. The maple water or sap is full of electrolytes and bio-active compounds—some of which have antioxidant properties. To make pure maple syrup, the sap needs to be boiled to evaporate a lot of the water away. Maple syrup is 33 percent water and 67 percent sugar.
Brantview Farms Maple uses a Leader evaporator to make maple syrup. An evaporator consists of two or more large, specially designed pans that are filled with sap that is gathered. These pans are heated with propane heat, which causes the sap to boil. As it boils, some of the water in the sap turns to steam, which rises out of the family sugar camp. The sap becomes thicker and sweeter. Brantview's team watches the boiling sap very carefully because it could easily burn in the evaporator. As the sap thickens, it gets hotter. The maple syrup is ready when its temperature reaches seven degrees Fahrenheit above the boiling point of water. This process requires a lot of time and energy, because it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of pure maple syrup! The boiling sap is tested with a hydrometer to determine if it is maple syrup. When it is thick enough to be maple syrup, it is filtered in a filter press to take out “sugar sand” which accumulates as sap boils. Sugar sand is just minerals and nutrients that concentrate as the excess water is boiled away. If it is not filtered out, the maple syrup will appear cloudy. Sugar maple tree tapping and the boiling process is hard work with an amazing and sweet reward!
THE FINAL PRODUCT
After the maple syrup is filtered, it is packaged in containers for sale, or made into other tasty maple treats. Brantview Farms Maple produces 100% pure, single source maple syrup, maple sugar, maple cream, and a variety of maple candy and maple coated nuts. Pure maple products have no additives, preservatives, or artificial colors. It’s all natural, and some people even call it a “taste of nature.” Pure maple syrup is great on pancakes, waffles, or French toast. You can also enjoy it on vanilla ice cream, on steamed rice and vegetables, or other foods. Check out our recipes for some sweet inspiration.