PATHWAYS - Herald Times, Bloomington, IN
Syrup from the fog
By Monty Howell 331-4380 | firstname.lastname@example.org
March 21, 2011
|K1, 15, stirs maple sap, moving it along to the right in a maple syrup arch, as it simmers and boils down to becoming maple syrup at the end. This Greene County family pitched in with friends for 10 days of loading firewood and pouring sap into the homemade boiling system, or arch. K1 and her family netted 3 gallons for their time and trouble.|
For 10 days, the Jenness family piled and split firewood to feed a homemade syrup arch. Boiling maple sap removes the water and fills the air with a sweet-smelling fog that warms the body in the cool night air, like no ordinary campfire can. The boiling usually ran the course of eight hours per day.
The cold nights and warming sun brought out the spring peepers in a chorus in front of their rural farmhouse near Newark.
The sap was flowing up the trunks of the maple trees as well. But this sap was carried here from about 20 miles away, from the Hinkle-Garton Farmstead on East 10th Street in
Making maple syrup takes time, heat, a lot of effort and about 43 gallons of sap for one gallon of syrup. This was a good-weather day, without rain, and the firebox made enough heat to evaporate off about seven gallons per hour.
This was a group effort shared by K1, 15, sister K2, 12, father Eric and mother Robin Edmundson. The family had the aid of Michael Bell, who made the arch and gathered the raw maple sap.
Bell periodically drew up several ounces from the final stage using a hydrometer to measure the specific gravity of the boiling sap. This indicates the sugar content of the final stage, which becomes syrup when it is 66 percent sugar. Sap normally flows at 2 percent sugar. The rest is mostly water.
This day had a campfire atmosphere near the back door of the busy household. K2 sat just out of the maple fog with a telescope, ready for the clear night sky. The sisters maintain a strict study routine at home, but their days can be broken up into real-life science experiments, such as how syrup is made.
The family enjoys knowing where their food comes from. They try to be as self- sufficient as practicality allows and grow much of their food at home. The family knows where this maple syrup was made and what went into making it. For their share of the work, they netted three gallons of dark amber syrup. They report its flavor is a 10 on a 0-to-10 scale, with 10 being the best possible.