As maple syrup season nears, producers in Garrett County are readying their tapping equipment for harvesting time, which runs from the end of this month through April. The sap starts to flow during the spring thaw, when the combination of mineral-rich soil and temperate weather yields exceptionally rich and sweet syrup.
After an exceptional winter, the sweet taste of spring can not come too soon…Especially in Garrett County, Maryland. There are a number of isolated areas in the southern Appalachians where maple syrup is still being produced. One of the more important sites is here in Maryland where about 30 syrup makers are scattered around Garrett County.
Steyer Brothers Farm is the largest producer in Western Maryland as well as the oldest: Last year, it celebrated its 100th anniversary. In a good year, the family-run operation (Grandma still lends a hand) squeezes out about 1,000 gallons of syrup. They sell the sticky amber substance for $7 a pint or $30 a gallon. The price tag is higher than such mass-produced syrups as Aunt Jemima, but compare labels before you go cheap: Major brands may contain less than 2 percent maple syrup; the local liquid is 100 percent pure.
The Washington Post
Traditionally, maple syrup was harvested by tapping a maple tree through the bark and into the wood, then letting the sap run into a bucket, which required daily collecting; less labour-intensive methods such as the use of continuous plastic pipelines have since superseded this, in all but cottage-scale production.
Production is concentrated in February, March, and April, depending on local weather conditions. Freezing nights and warm days are needed to induce sap flows. The change in temperature from above to below freezing causes water uptake from the soil, and temperatures above freezing cause a stem pressure to develop, which, along with gravity, causes sap to flow out of tapholes or other wounds in the stem or branches. To collect the sap, holes are bored into the maple trees and tubes (taps, spouts, spiles) are inserted. Sap flows through the spouts into buckets or into plastic tubing.
Since it requires 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup…One sugar maple will produce about 10 gallons of sap in a season. You need a lot of trees to make any quantity of syrup.
The map below shows the location of Steyer Brothers Farm.
For more information there is a video of the Stayer Brothers Farm maple syrup production by Edwin Remsberg HERE