Every year in late February or early March, the sugaring season begins again at Kawartha Maple Farm. The season runs for about 2-2 ½ months through April or the first part of May.
In winter, the maple producers drill holes in the maple trees and insert 1-3 taps. A long tubing system connects all of the trees and carries the sap to the steel containers. Then, the sap is pumped using high pressure to decrease the water content, concentrate the sugar, and save energy by reducing the evaporation time.
The sap is boiled at 104° C for several hours to reach a level of 66 degrees Brix for the sugar content and other molecules. A chemical process called the Maillard Reaction turns the sugar brown as the amino acids in the sap react with it. The end result is our signature maple syrup with its wonderful aroma, color, and delicious flavor.
Before the sugaring season, the trees do their share of work. In summer, they make sugar through the process of photosynthesis. The sugar helps the cells of the tree to breathe, generates growth, and stores in the roots as starch.
Then spring comes with the annual thaw caused by the varying temperatures in the day and night and the sap (which is now combined with the sugar) flows up and down the maple trees. The warmer daylight hours (higher than 40° F) expand the tree’s wood and the sap in the branches flows into the tree trunk right out the taps.
When it gets cold at night (below freezing), the process is reversed: the wood is contracted, the flow of sap stopped, and more sap goes up the tree from the roots. This cycle continues.
Undoubtedly, our employees are busy with sap production. After all, on average, it takes 40 liters (10½ gallons) of sap to make 1 liter (4 cups) of maple syrup. But we know it’s well worth our time to produce this quality product to continue our heritage and to share it with our customers.