It's that time of year again! Warm days and freezing nights - the perfect weather for Maple sap to begin running. The fluctuations in temperature expands and contracts the fibers in the tree, allowing the sap to flow. Tapping the trees, and collecting the sap is just the first step in making Maple sugar.
Maple Sugar Time at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is the perfect place to learn how maple sugar was processed throughout history. Found only in the northern United States and Canada, maple sugar production is unique to our continent. Native Americans collected the sap in wood bowls, then added hot rocks to the sap to get the liquid to boil. Later, European settlers to the area used large kettles to boil the sap over open fires, increasing production. In the early 1900's, shallow metal evaporators were placed over wood stoves to heat more sap much faster. The operation was housed inside a small building called a "sugar shack."
All of these methods are demonstrated by volunteers and park rangers at the historic Chellberg Farm, located within the national Park. Children can also try their hand a tapping a tree, and carrying buckets of sap hung from a yoke.
Maple Sugar Time takes place annually, on the first two (full) weekends of March.
Posted by Tom Gill at Monday, March 09, 2015