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Maple Sugaring Terms

APRONING

      A test to check the density of boiling sap.  When sap drips drips of the end of the dipper in sheets, it is "aproning" and ready to be called syrup. The final test for proper density is done with a glass instrument floated in the syrup - a hydrometer or hydrotherm.

BUDDING

      When warmer weather in the late spring causes leaf buds to swell, the syrup takes on a strong molasses flavor. This signals the end of the sugaring season.

DECLINE / DIEBACK

      Signs of a lack of vigor in any tree.  Causes are numerous and increasing. Much research is being done on Maple decline and its possible link to environmental factors.

EVAPORATOR

      Maple Sugaring equipment used to "evaporate" the water from the sap that has been collected. When the sap is boiled, it is channeled down through the evaporator pan, reaching the correct temperature. It is now "drawn off" as syrup.  An evaporator is either wood fired or as ours - oil fired.

FILTERING

      The process of clarifying pure maple syrup.  Raw syrup contains various suspended particles (called "sugar sand") brought out in the boiling process. In earlier days, these particles were "settled out" in bulk containers before retail packaging. Today we filter through cloth and paper membranes, producing crystal clear syrup.

GATHERING

      The process of collecting and moving the sap from the maple tree to the sugarhouse.

MAPLE CANDY

      Made by boiling down maple syrup, stirring it, and pouring it into molds for hardening.  Pure maple candy is made from maple syrup only.  Blended maple candy contains corn or cane sugars in addition to maple.

MAPLE CROP

      An entire season's production. Average in Maine is about 190,000 gallons for the entire state.  Most of our Sugarhouses make between 100 to 1000 gallons.

REVERSE OSMOSIS

      A mechanical means of removing some of the water from the sap before boiling.

SHELF LIFE / STORAGE

      Unopened containers of pure maple syrup may be left in a cool, dark place for 6 months without refrigeration.  After opening, syrup should be refrigerated. Freezer storage keeps open or unopened containers indefinitely, and the liquid does not solidify.  A mold on the surface of opened syrup may be skimmed off, and the product may be used after reheating to 190 F. Place reheated syrup in new, airtight containers.

SOFT SUGAR or MAPLE CREAM

      A table spread with the consistency of peanut butter.  Made by boiling syrup to a slightly lower temperature than that for maple candy, then cooling and storing.

SUGARBUSH

      The maple grove where trees are tapped and sap collected.  A sugarbush is measured not by the number of maple trees, but by the number of spouts or taps set.  Some old maples drip sap from as many as 4 spouts.  Young trees ( at least 40 years old) only have one tap.  In either case, each tap yields about 10 gallons of sap over the whole season, which makes about one quart of syrup.

SUGARHOUSE

      The rustic building where boiling the sap into syrup takes place.

SUGAR ON SNOW

      A sticky, taffy-like treat made by thickening syrup on a stove and immediately pouring it on fresh snow or ice crystals.  Eat a sour pickle between servings!

SUGARING TIME (Season)

      Occurs in early spring when days are 35 - 45 and nights are below freezing. When several of these days occur in succession, sap begins to flow.  When night time temperatures remain above freezing and days warm into the 50's, the trees begin to bud and the season ends.

SWEET TREES

      Not all sugar maple trees are equal. Some have sweeter sap than their neighbors.  It takes fewer gallons of this sweet sap to make a gallon of syrup. Efforts to genetically predict (and reproduce) sweet trees have failed so far.

TAPPING

      The first step in sugaring, when 7/16" diameter holes are drilled about 2" deep into maple tree trunks.  Many old trees have been tapped in this way for 75 or more years.

TUBING / PIPELINE

      Increasingly used in hillside sugarbushes, plastic tubing conveys the sap directly from each tree to holding tanks. Some lines are a mile or more long and may connect 500 or more taps to a single tank.

 

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