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:
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.