Tap, Tap, Tap!

Posted By Wolf Ridge Naturalist
April 7, 2017

  • 1 of 4

    Tapping a tree.

  • 2 of 4

    Gathering sap.

  • 3 of 4

    The boil.

  • 4 of 4

    Tasting the results.

It’s that time of year when the maple sap is running! Wolf Ridge happens to be right in the middle of a sugar bush, a section of forest dominated by sugar maple trees. We waited to begin tapping until the right time – when the temperature is below freezing at night and above freezing during the day. When the temperatures are above freezing, pressure develops in the tree, causing the sap to flow out of the tree through the tap hole. When it cools down at night, suction develops and draws water from the soil in through the roots. This suction replenishes the sap in the tree and it means we can continue to rely on the same tap hole for the tapping season. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the temperatures continue to fluctuate like this for awhile!

Each year, we tap our sugar maples, collect the sap, and boil it down to make maple syrup or maple sugar. Since maple sap is only around 4% sugar, you end up having to boil down 35 gallons or so to get a gallon’s worth of syrup. But it seems that red squirrels don’t mind the watery sap – if you look carefully, you might see one snap off a branch or bite of a bud in order to sample the tasty sap.

It’s a lot of work, but having a big appetite for waffles, we agree it’s worth it!

A Poem About Tapping at Wolf Ridge

Tap, tap, tap!
What’s that? It’s sap!
Flows slowly through the sugar maple,
It’s a breakfast staple.
Drip, drip, drip, into the pail,
With fluctuating temperatures, we cannot fail!
Boil, boil, thicken, thicken,
When I see the stove going, my step starts to quicken.
Maple syrup, so delicious,
The only person complaining is the one doing dishes!
By Rosie Hesla, Rory Anderson, and Hannah Edstrom