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Indian Springs Metropark Sugar Bush

Indian Springs Metropark’s nature area includes a small sugar bush and sugar shack, which they give tours of during the early spring.

A sugar bush is a stand of maple trees, ideally sugar maples.  Although you can make a sugary syrup from nearly any deciduous trees (conifers, like pine trees, make turpentine, instead, which isn’t really as tasty), the sap from a maple tree has much more sugar than any other.

To make maple syrup, you place taps into maple trees in early spring, ideally when nights are below freezing and days are above freezing, to maximize the sap flow.  The number of taps is determined by the diameter of the tree and, as long as you don’t exceed this number, they do no harm to the tree.  From each tap, you hang a bag or bucket, or attach a collection hose, to collect the watery, nearly tasteless sap as it slowly drips from the trees.  This sap is then collected and taken to the sugar shack.

Once at the sugar shack, the water-like sap is slowly boiled down in a broad, shallow evaporator pan, allowing the water to boil off and the remaining contents, sugar and other chemicals which give it the distinctive maple flavor, to concentrate.  By measuring the specific gravity of the liquid, it’s possible to determine when each grade of maple syrup has been reached.

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This page is just a small part of the Indian Springs Metropark app.

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