Friday, March 20, 2009

Maple Syrup Field Trip

Today our homeschool group went to a local county park and learned how to make maple syrup.

First we had to hike out into the woods to find the maple trees.  Our guide told us that boxelder trees could also be tapped for sap to be made into syrup.

First he showed the kids how to drill a hole into the tree.  He said you could drill 1 ½ to 3 inches deep.  He showed us holes from last year and explained that he needed to stay about 6" away from those old holes.

The sap immediately started running out of the tree.  We were able to taste the sap to see if it was sweet.  It was tasteless and looked a lot like water.  But, after touching it, it did feel sticky on our fingers.

Next he hammered the tap into the tree.

Here is the bucket that catches the sap.  Just minutes after tapping the tree, there was about ½ cup of sap in the bucket.  40 gallons of sap will produce one gallon of syrup.

Here are two taps running into a bucket.  He told us if we wanted to tap our own trees we need to make sure we use food grade tubing and buckets.

Next we headed to the syrup shack where they cook the sap.  Duchess is in the dark purple coat on the right.

I had to run ahead of the girls to get a front shot.  I thought they looked so cute holding hands.

Squire is checking out the Gator.  This is what they use to haul the sap to the syrup shack.

In the shack, they cook it over a wood fire for the first part, then they move it into the next area to be cooked over gas.

This is the gas cooking area.  The reason they cook it over gas for the last part of cooking is so that when the syrup is done, they can turn off the heat immediately, stopping the cooking process.  When cooking over fire, they have no way to stop the fire, and could potentially burn it if it continues to cook. 

Here is our whole group of kids.  We had to do a little coersing and threatening to get them to all pose together.  They preferred gender segregated photos. 

Here I am with Squire, Scribe and Duchess.  I left Maiden and Prince Charming home.  (Not alone.)

Of course, we thought the best part was the free samples of maple syrup they handed out at the end!  We are maple syrup consumers in our house.  It costs about $16.00 a quart, so when I serve it I am always saying, "Don't be wasteful, this stuff is expensive."

Scribe couldn't believe that they would just 'give' everyone a 3.4 ounce bottle of syrup.  He said, "Boy, they spent a LOT of money on their free samples." and made sure everyone in the group knew it.  On the ride home the boys talked excitedly about being able to taste it the next time we made pancakes.  Duchess didn't bother waiting.  Hers is nearly gone.  She drank it right out of the bottle.  


  1. Great field trip and photos. If you want to do other field trips where you never need to leave home. Try MEET ME AT THE CORNER, VIrtual Field Trips for Kids ( and see Natalia Paruz play the musical saw at NY Library of Performing arts.

  2. Oh Duchess! You are a girl after my own heart! I would do the same thing! Great stuff. I remember touring a maple syruping place with my grandpa when I was a kid.

  3. Thanks Michelle. Fun narrative and pictures. Very helpful to understanding their set up. Jessie

  4. I think Duchess and Punkin would be very, very best friends.

    (except they might fight over the sugar...)

  5. Excellent field trip..looks like they had a great time! :)

  6. WOW!!! I looked at the visitor locations of people who read your blog and there must be millions!

  7. *Real* maple is such a treat!



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