How sweet it is: Maple sugaring in Morris County

educator, explains how our ancestors made maple sugar, at Maple Sugar Festival, March 3, 2018. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Douglas Vorolieff, senior teacher educator, explains how our ancestors made maple sugar, at Maple Sugar Festival, March 3, 2018. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
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By Jeff Sovelove

When asked for a quote about this weekend’s Maple Sugar Festival at the Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center, Layla, 7, could think of only one word: “Sweet!” 

Visitors were treated to a variety of maple products including maple donuts (yum!), lollipops, maple cream, maple snow cones, and of course, maple syrup.

There were crafts and games for the kids and maple tree tapping demonstrations.  Douglas Vorolieff, senior educator for the Morris County Park Commission, led a short walk and explained how maple sugar is made. 

Slideshow photos by Jeff Sovelove:

Lyla, 7, and Lainey, 9, enjoy the maple snow cones at Maple Sugar Festival, March 3, 2018. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
educator, explains how our ancestors made maple sugar, at Maple Sugar Festival, March 3, 2018. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Douglas Vorolieff, senior teacher educator explains how our ancestors made maple sugar, at Maple Sugar Festival, March 3, 2018. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Maple syrup products for sale at Maple Sugar Festival, March 3, 2018. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Maple donuts at Maple Sugar Festival, March 3, 2018. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Wood fired evaporator at Maple Sugar Festival, March 3, 2018. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
A full collection bucket at Maple Sugar Festival, March 3, 2018. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Staffing the center's wood-fired evaporator at Maple Sugar Festival, March 3, 2018. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Ethan, 7, plays a beanbag game. His mother works for the Great Swamp outdoor Education Center. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Identifying a maple tree at Maple Sugar Festival, March 3, 2018. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
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Maple Sugar Festival (20) - Lyla, 7, and Lainey, 9, enjoy the maple snow cones at Maple Sugar Festival, March 3, 2018. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
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It takes about 40 gallons of maple tree sap, which looks like water, to make just one gallon of maple syrup.  Small farms drive a spile (spout) into the maple tree and then hang a covered bucket on it to collect the sap. 

They then collect the raw sap and boil off most of the water, leaving the sweet syrup behind.  Larger commercial farms use plastic tubing between trees which then all flow to a sugar house, where the process of making syrup begins.

Vorolieff also treated the crowd to historical ways of making maple sugar, which is more stable than syrup and can be kept longer, as well as Lanape legends about how it first was discovered that sap could be made into sugar. 

He also explained how to identify a maple tree by the bark, color, and branches that grow on opposite sides of the tree. 

A maple tree must be at least 10 inches in diameter before it can be tapped, which does not harm the tree. Visitors also could experience the wood burning evaporator and have a cup of warm apple cider to keep the chill away.  

Definitely a sweet day.

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