Apr 07-09

Past-E-Mail: Cam Notes - 2009: April: Apr 07-09
Grandpa, this tastes GOOD!    ...scroll down to share comments
Photo by Brody's Grandpa, Scott
Crooked Maple    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Brenda Leigh
Maple Syrup hauler    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Brenda Leigh
Dumping the sap    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Brenda Leigh
Tending the syrup shack    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Brenda Leigh
Pouring sap into boiling pan    ...scroll down to share comments
Photos by Brenda Leigh

Mary Drew at Pasty Central (Mdrew) on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - 05:18 am:

Looking at these photos from the Menominee area, you can tell that their snowcover on the ground is, for the most part, melted away. Brenda Leigh snapped these shots of her neighbor and the process he goes through making maple syrup this time of year. Brenda said that first photo was actually taken by the little guy's Grandpa Scott. Brody was out "helping" collect the sap from the buckets and when Grandpa turned around, there he was sampling the product, fresh from the spicket.

The other shots of the day were snapped by Brenda as she tagged along to learn more about the process, from start to finish. Check out that gnarly big maple tree they have tapped in the second photo. I bet that old tree could tell some stories, if it could talk. The tractor and trailer are part of the hauling process, as you can see in the fourth photo where they're dumping the collected sap right into the vat that's strapped on the tailer. They then haul that over to the syrup shack, where all the steam and heat turns that sap into delicious U.P. maple syrup. It's quite the process and Brenda said that her neighbor collected 250 gallons of sap and ended up with 5 gallons of syrup that day. I had no idea it took that much sap to make that small amount of maple syrup.

Brenda also supplied me with a link that she found about "old time" syrup making and the process, so I've included it here for anyone who's interested in reading more about today's Pasty Cam subject: Making Maple Syrup.

By David Soumis (Davesou) on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - 07:19 am:

when I was growing up in Chassell, we always made maple syrup. We tapped in our yard, had a bunch of maples and also in some property located across from Walt Soumis's greenhouse on Paradise Road in Chassell.
We collected every afternoon after school, usually into big milk cans,. My dad would boil out in the woods late into tthe night. It was pretty hard work, but yet a lot of fun.

We used to grab a piece of sap ice out of the can in the morning for a treat on the way to school, or sometimes take a couple of swallows out of the can. The extra bark and those small flies used to go down pretty smooth :)

By Gary W. Young (Gary49) on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - 07:25 am:

Brings back memories. My dad used to take us out to the "sugar camps" when we were small. We could buy the candy and syrup. I'd like to be there for some now.

By Rowdy (Roudymi) on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - 07:39 am:

I used birch sap. Was sweet but the flavor had to many "over tones" to be enjoyed.

By Deb S. (Usedtobeayooper) on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - 07:44 am:

You'd never know it was that time of year. It hasn't warmed up at all.

By Janie T. (Bobbysgirl) on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - 07:49 am:

I never realized how much work/time goes into maple syrup. Just always thought of it as going in the store and grabbing a bottle of Log Cabin off the shelf.

By Richard J. (Dick_fl) on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - 07:55 am:

My friend Jim Maynard's Dad used to make maple syrup way back when we were kids in the 50's. I remember his syrup shack way up on the hill behind their house. Long time since I thought of that. What good memories. Thanks!

By Eddyfitz (Eddyfitz) on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - 08:04 am:

"Sapping time" in Hubbell............this is how traditions are/were handed down from one generation to the next....I spent many nights (1950's) up on the hill as I helped the older guys in town gather and boil during the season.

By D. Clark (Dcclark) on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - 08:05 am:

Rowdy, now I'm really curious about birch syrup. Sounds pretty good to me.

My grandfather still makes syrup, and I would often bring some of it with me for a "taste of home" when I was in school in Ontario. My Canadian housemates just stared... I don't think they realized that anyone outside of Canada made maple syrup!

By Brooke (Lovethekeweenaw) on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - 08:53 am:

I know I'll be booed from all directions but to me the real stuff is just too sweet. A few coworkers are collecting it and have been pretty busy.

By Mel, MN (Mehollop) on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - 09:00 am:

It sure does take a lot of sap to get syrup - typically between 40-50 gallons of sap to 1 gallon of syrup. It all depends on what type of tree is being tapped (sugar, red, silver maple, or boxelder) - some species will have a ratio of 60:1! Many types of trees can be tapped and their sap boiled down to syrup, but often it doesn't taste as good - and likely takes even more sap to get a little syrup because there isn't as much inherent sugar in the sap to start with.

So given the average ratios... imagine how much sap has been hauled at the sugar bush where I helped out one weekend a few years ago - they got about 70 gallons or so of *syrup* this year, and often get more! (Syrup season is done for them now - northern Indiana is where he's located.) The operation down there is aided by a pair of percheron horses who haul the 300 gallon sap wagon (sometimes through mud up to the axles) with 10 helpers riding on the sides without even breaking a sweat. It's great fun!

By michael j. adams (Adzie40) on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - 09:52 am:

good morning, i remember billy kettenbeil and i used to break off sapcicles from the maple tree in his back yard and enjoy them as we would sled down tamarack hill in calumet. sure do miss those times.

By mickill mouse (Ram4) on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - 10:51 am:


Out of curiosity, how long ago was that?

By Joy Brewer (Joy) on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - 10:58 am:

My father's family lived (and some are still there)in the Ironwood area. In the spring, we would make a trip down from Houghton County to get our supply of our family's home made syrup. Even after we moved below the bridge, we would often go to Olson Road and pick up our year's supply of our deep dark brown thick syrup. My youngest son would not have any other kind of syrup on his pancakes etc. It was a lot of hard work for the family who lived in the area, but it brought family and friends together during this time of year. The result of this activity was a product which we all enjoyed, but the most important factor was that it united a family community together. The memories are precious.

By E. Neil Harri (Ilmayksi) on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - 11:03 am:

I am just reading Karl Bohnak's book, "So Cold A Sky". The weather related stories start from the earliest explorers and missionaries in the 1600's.
The sugar bush was a staple part of diet of those early pioneers and native people. Some would live on only the sap while it was flowing. They mostly made candy.

By eugenia r. thompson (Ert) on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - 11:35 am:

Janie and others -- Check the label on the bottle of Log Cabin from the store. It's not maple syrup. Pure maple syrup is labeled as such and is much more expensive. And worth every cent!

By michael j. adams (Adzie40) on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - 01:02 pm:

to mickill mouse,
i would say that it wasat least 30 to 35yrs ago,(yikes! am i that old?)

By Janie T. (Bobbysgirl) on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - 03:11 pm:

Ert...Right on!

By Thomas Baird (Thomas) on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - 05:09 pm:

With some areas still getting snowy weather, hopefully, the maple syrup season will still b a good one. The "gnarled" maple tree looks like a trail marker tree. The Indians would bend permanently young trees 2 mark trails, and the trees would keep growing in that shape.

By David Soumis (Davesou) on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - 05:41 pm:

Aunt Jemima Original Syrup:

Log Cabin

great stuff, chemistry :)

By David Soumis (Davesou) on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - 05:49 pm:

i messed up the log cabin..here's the real deal..sorry
INGREDIENTS: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Sugar Syrup, Water, Pure Maple Syrup, Salt, Artificial Flavors, Cellulose Gum, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Sodium Benzoate, and Sorbic Acid, (Preservatives) Caramel Color.
In reality, from what I've read, there is no actual maple syrup in Log Cabin...it is flavoring.

all of the regular commercial products ingredients are the same pretty much.

I also read an article that explains why the log cabins and similar are better than real maple syrup. Something about it isn't as runny and tastes better, plus we don't need to eat trees or anything that tastes like bark.

By dan belo (Djbelo) on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 - 10:10 pm:

try blueberry pancakes with pure maple syrup. wow

By Sandy G (Artessss) on Wednesday, April 8, 2009 - 01:37 am:

Sure a lot of great memories on that subject! Love to hear all who share.

By Thomas Baird (Thomas) on Wednesday, April 8, 2009 - 04:42 am:

I thought maple syrup would clash with blueberry pancakes, but I'll give it a try, since you say it's good.

By kosk in Toronto (Koskintoronto) on Wednesday, April 8, 2009 - 05:07 am:

We really enjoy blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup in our
family too--especially when the blueberries are wild ones from
the UP picked by my father, the "Blueberry Man."

By maija in Commerce Township (Maija) on Wednesday, April 8, 2009 - 07:26 am:

Wild Keweenaw blueberries are THE BEST!

By Rowdy (Roudymi) on Wednesday, April 8, 2009 - 01:12 pm:

Maija, you tryin' ta start sumpt'n

By Thomas Baird (Thomas) on Wednesday, April 8, 2009 - 03:01 pm:

Well, I learned something new, 2-day. The Keweenaw has blueberries as well as thimbleberries.

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