By Kristin Bednarski
Making maple syrup may not be easy, but it can definitely be done, with patience, right here in Ohio.
Naturalists Keith Robinson and Elizabeth Jones took a group of local residents through the entire maple syrup making process Feb. 16 at Pattison Park.
Robinson and Jones gave a hands-on demonstration and explained the process from start to finish.
They began by explaining how to identify and tap a sugar maple tree.
“You can identify a sugar maple by the leaves and bark,” Robinson said. “Sugar maples are the best maples to use.”
Robinson said you can make syrup from other maples and other trees, but sugar maples have the highest sugar content in their sap, making it easier to make syrup.
“Once we’ve found a tree, the next thing to do is tap it,” Robinson said.
He said it is important to insert a tap into the trunk of the tree upward at a slight angle. Once the tap is inserted, a bucket is attached to the tap to collect the sap.
Robinson took residents around the park to collect sap from trees that had already been tapped.
Mike Walden, an Owensville resident, said he came to the event because he wants to try to make maple syrup from some trees he has on his property.
“I’ve got some trees at the house I am going to tap,” Walden said. “I thought it would be interesting to do.”
Aaron Daniels, a 12-year-old Boy Scout from Bethel, said he came with some of the other boys in his troop because they wanted to see how maple syrup was made.
“I learned that other maples take twice as long as the sugar maple,” Daniels said about the syrup making process. “I liked walking around the grounds and seeing everything.”
Once residents helped Robinson and Jones collect all of the sap from the maple trees, they took the sap into the “Sugar Shack” so they could show everyone the rest of the process.
Robinson and Jones explained that the sap must be refrigerated until it is boiled, and the boiling process requires time and specific temperatures.
“You have to boil it for many hours before you get syrup,” Jones said.
Robinson said boiling the sap to 70 degrees above the boiling point of water, which is 212 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as measuring the sugar content are important in the maple syrup-making process.
“The percentage of sugar has to be 66.5 percent, almost exactly, to be considered syrup,” Robinson said.
Robinson and Jones let everyone in the group taste the sap throughout the process of turning it into maple syrup.
He said it takes nearly 45 gallons of sap to produce 1 gallon of maple syrup.
Robinson said that while it may be hard to believe, Ohio actually produces a significant amount of maple syrup.
“People don’t realize how much syrup comes from Ohio,” he said.
He said syrup is mainly produced in the northern part of the state.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Survey, Ohio produced nearly 100,000 gallons of maple syrup in 2012. Vermont is the national leader for maple syrup production at 750,000 gallons.
For more information about maple syrup production contact Robinson at (513) 732-2977.
The Clermont County Park District will also be hosting a pancake breakfast from 8:30-11:30 a.m. March 9 at Pattison Park.
Photos from this event are available for viewing and purchase. Click here.