By Kristin Rover
Several people came out to Pattison Park on a snowy morning Feb. 15 to learn more about maple syrup production.
The program was put on by the Clermont County Park District, and the park district produces Maple Syrup at Pattison Park every year.
Liz Jones, a naturalist with the park district, said that once temperatures get above freezing during the day the sap that is used to make syrup can be collected.
“It has to get below freezing at night, but above freezing during the day,” Jones said. “We tapped trees January 30 and we’ve collected sap every day.”
Jones said the park district doesn’t tap every tree each year and tries to give the maple trees a break, although it is not necessary for production.
She said they also only put one or two taps on each tree.
“Sap is made up of sugar and water, it is the tree’s food,” Jones said. “You only tap a couple of xylems so you don’t take it all.”
Jones said the sap collection has been low so far this season because of the cold temperatures.
She said once the temperatures get a little warmer during the day production will increase.
“To make syrup out of sugar maple sap it takes 40 gallons to get sap,” Jones said.
She said it takes twice as much red maple sap to make syrup.
If the temperatures get too warm, however, Jones said the sap has to be refrigerated so it doesn’t spoil.
“If it gets above 60 degrees during the day, the sap will go bad,” Jones said.
She said bad sap is similar to spoiled milk, the color is off and it has a spoiled smell.
Jones demonstrated how to collect sap from each of the trees and brought buckets of sap back to the Sugar Shack at Pattison Park to use for the maple syrup production.
Jones demonstrated the steps in making maple syrup using an evaporator.
She said there are a couple of crucial things to watch for when producing maple syrup.
“When you’re boiling sap you want to pay attention to temperature and sugar content,” Jones said.
Jones the boiling temperature for the sap has to reach around 220 degrees, and a hydrometer is used to measure the sugar content in the sap.
“Sixty-four percent sap equals syrup,” Jones said.
She said it will take a while longer for the sap to reach 64 percent this season.
Once it does, Jones said it becomes maple syrup. If it is boiled any longer and additional water is boiled out, she said the consistency changes and it becomes maple sugar, which is used to make maple candy.
Jones also talked about the different grades of maple syrup.
“What gives it a different color and taste is the boiling temperature,” Jones said.
She said if they syrup is produced slower and longer it has a darker color and richer maple taste. The quicker production gives syrup a lighter color and taste.
And while Vermont is most famously known for maple syrup production, Jones said Ohio isn’t far behind.
“Ohio is number seven for top producing states of maple syrup,” Jones said.
There are still several opportunities to learn more about maple syrup production in Clermont County.
The Clermont County Park District will hold their annual Pancake Breakfast March 8 where guests can go on a tour and enjoy pancakes with maple syrup.
The event begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Pattison Park Lodge. The cost of the event is $6 for adults and $3 for children 7-12 years old. Children 6 years old and younger are free.
For more information visit www.clermontparks.org.
The Cincinnati Nature Center also provides maple sugaring programs at their Rowe Woods location in Union Township.
For more information about the programs visit www.cincynature.org.