Rural Missouri - February 2020 - 39
Above: Volunteer Ed Leutwiler demonstrates a three-kettle cooking process. Below: Hot maple syrup is poured into cold snow for a tasty treat.
by Paul Newton | email@example.com
issouri offers an abundance of outdoor activities all year long. When the temperatures dip
in the winter, some may be inclined to stay
inside. However, if you have a few tools, a little
know-how and just the right tree on your property, some
time outdoors can end with a sweet treat for you and your
family: homemade maple syrup.
"We have a window of about six weeks in January and
February where the factors are ideal," says Dan Zarlenga,
media specialist with the Missouri Department of Conservation. "When the sap is ﬂowing in the sugar maple trees,
we can tap into them and draw it out."
The sap ﬂows throughout the trees when the temperature dips below freezing overnight and rises above that
line during the day. The greater the difference between the
two temperatures, the more sap will potentially ﬂow. Sap
tapped out of sugar maple trees consists of about 97%
water and just 3% sugar.
The process of transforming the sap into delicious
syrup is extremely simple, although not speedy. It is boiled
down, which evaporates the water
and concentrates the sugar. A 40-gallon batch of sap will result in a single
gallon of maple syrup."You need to do
the main boiling outdoors over a ﬁre
pit, grill or something like that," Dan
says. "Otherwise you'll end up with
sticky walls in your house."
The department recommends moving the liquid indoors as it closes in
on becoming syrup so you can better
regulate the heat. Once ﬁnished it is
ﬁltered and ready to be drizzled on
top of your Sunday morning pancakes.
"The real maple syrup is going to be thinner than the
bottles you might get at the grocery store," Dan says.
"Some of those brands aren't actually maple syrup, but
corn syrup with maple ﬂavoring. This will be authentic.
The taste is more pure."
MDC hosts events at Rockwoods Reservation in Wildwood to show off some of the cold-weather opportunities
available outdoors, including maple sugaring. The department employs some history when teaching the process.
"We demonstrate some of the ways people in the past
have used sap and boiled it down," Dan says. "Early on,
the real objective would be to boil it down to get sugar,
before cane sugar was readily available."
They also show how pioneers would use a three-kettle
system over an open ﬁre. Fresh sap starts in one kettle until evaporated to a certain level and is moved to the middle
kettle, while the ﬁrst kettle is replenished. The process is
repeated into the ﬁnal kettle where the syrup is perfected.
The Winter in the Woods Festival - formerly known
as the Maple Sugar Festival - will be held at Rockwoods
Reservation on Saturday, Feb. 1 and will feature the maple
sugaring and other winter outdoor activities. Maple sugaring programs also are being offered at
Rockwoods on Feb. 15 and Burr Oak
Woods Conservation Nature Center in
Blue Springs on Feb. 22.
Adds Dan: "If you dress warmly
and prepare, you can have a lot of fun
outdoors in the winter."
For more information on MDC's
maple sugaring events visit their event
calendar at www.mdc.mo.gov/events.
For more on maple sugaring at home,
including a backyard guide, visit www.
FEBRUARY 2020 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP
Rural Missouri - February 2020
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