Getting sappy, in the heart of Morris County

Senior Educator Douglas Vorolieff holds a reproduction stone ax as he explains how the early native Americans gathered maple sap, at the 2019 Maple Syrup Fest. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Senior Educator Douglas Vorolieff holds a reproduction stone ax as he explains how the early native Americans gathered maple sap, at the 2019 Maple Syrup Fest. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
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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.

Ronan, 4, from Chatham gives the moose a hug, at the 2019 Maple Syrup Fest. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Ronan, 4, from Chatham gives the moose a hug, at the 2019 Maple Syrup Fest. Photo by Jeff Sovelove

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.

Wood-fired evaporator, at the 2019 Maple Syrup Fest. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Wood-fired evaporator, at the 2019 Maple Syrup Fest. Photo by Jeff Sovelove

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.

Reproduction pots at the 2019 Maple Syrup Fest. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Reproduction pots
at the 2019 Maple Syrup Fest. Photo by Jeff Sovelove

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!”

How to make maple cream, at the 2019 Maple Syrup Fest. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
How to make maple cream, at the 2019 Maple Syrup Fest. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Kids playing a bean bag game at the 2019 Maple Syrup Fest. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Kids playing a bean bag game at the 2019 Maple Syrup Fest. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
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