By Jeff Sovelove
The overnight snow did not deter visitors with a sweet tooth from the annual Maple Sugar Festival at the Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center in Chatham on Saturday.
Kids could greet the world’s friendliest moose, play games, sample maple cream, have pancakes by the fire, and try to guess which maple syrup was homemade vs. commercial.
Senior Educator Douglas Vorolieff led a short nature hike, where he explained how sap is gathered for maple syrup.
It takes 40 gallons of sap to make a single gallon of syrup.
People have been making maple sugar and syrup ever since the early Native Americans. They used heated rocks and birch bark containers to heat the sap, evaporating some of the water and concentrating the sugar in the remaining liquid.
Later, European settlers used metal pots to boil off the water more efficiently and then used wood-fired evaporators.
Modern maple farmers run lengths of PVC piping between the trees which then feed down to the condensing house to boil off 95 percent of the water, leaving the maple syrup.
Maple products for sale included maple donuts, syrup, candy and more. To quote the late Jackie Gleason: “How sweet it is!”