Monday, April 18, 2011

NOT Aunt Jemima.

Well, you can all breathe a sigh of relief -- we made it to the sugar shack before it closed down for the season. Whew! I was starting to sweat it but we finally squeaked in a trip to the woods this weekend. 

What's a sugar shack, you ask? Why it's where Maple syrup comes from. Duh. 

Basically, it's a Maple tree farm. The trees are tapped every year and the sap is collected to boil down to syrup.

There are a few ways to do this. The fancy method is to tap the tree and run tubing from tree to tree on a downward slope. This way the sap flows into one central spot.

The old school way is to hang a bucket below each tap. It's more labor intensive as each bucket has to be collected and emptied periodically. I think that's why farmers reproduce, if you catch my drift. wink, wink.

If you're the lucky duck in charge of collecting the sap you get to collect it while driving this cool ole tractor. It even comes with it's own tank to empty the buckets into.

This time of year they're about to shut down as its getting warmer outside. But you can see why they use the tractor. It's a lot of freakin' buckets to collect.

Anyway, the maple sap eventually ends up in the sugar shack. 

Here it is slowly boiled to 220 degrees. It takes about 3-4 hours.

They use a wood burning stove to heat the maple sap until it reaches the perfect temperature and turns to syrup.

Then they drain it into the bottles and sell it to make the big bucks. 

It takes 40 gallons of sap to produce 1 gallon of pure maple syrup.

By the way, I know all of this because the nice old farmer caught me and Carla snooping around (I may have been climbing a ladder to get a photo) and gave us a syrup-making lesson.

They don't just make syrup either. You can feast on maple butter, maple cream, or maple candy.

Maple cream is best served in a ice cream cone.

Or in maple leaf format. That's my personal favorite.

But the real fun is making your own lollipop. That's the whole point of hiking through the woods. It's why we go. It's what I live for.

You start by purchasing a $2 popsicle stick and then make your way over to the snow table. Here the nice man pours hot syrup on the snow where it slowly solidifies.

While it's warm you start rolling...

And roll...

And roll.

Viola! Maple deliciousness.

While finishing the walk you can enjoy your treat.

The best part is there are three shacks in the same stretch of woods so sticks can be refilled as you walk through the woods. I mean, who doesn't want three maple lollipops in the span of an hour?

Buyer Beware: Don't pet your dog until you've washed the stickiness off your hands. Eww.


Workout: Cardio - 30 minutes, Weights - biceps, triceps

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