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February 20, 2013

Troy Nature Center presents Maple Syrup Time

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

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Troy Nature Center presents Maple Syrup Time
Lloyd A. Stage Nature Center instructor Stacy Fisher and Alexa Warborton demonstrate how the buckets of sap from maple trees were transported through the woods in pioneer times.

Did you know it takes more than three buckets of sap from maple trees to make just half a cup of maple syrup? Or that American Indians made the sap into sugar, rather than syrup, which wasn’t produced from the maple sap until tin cans were invented after the Civil War?

More than 70 trees at the Lloyd A. Stage Nature will be tapped for sap in the spring thaw. 

“This involves drilling tap holes and running a hose line, no pumping, once the tap starts flowing and hanging buckets,” said Debbie Williams, lead naturalist at the Nature Center.

The sap is collected and stored in a holding tank, where it will await treatment in the evaporator in the “sugar shack” at the Nature Center, Williams said. 

Staff and volunteers from the Troy Nature Society and the Troy Historical Society will join forces to present their largest and most popular event at the Nature Center, Maple Syrup Time – Past and Present.

Carla Reeb, executive director of the Troy Nature Society, said that more than 1,000 people were expected to attend the program, which will be held on the first three Saturdays in March.

Troy Historic Village Director Loraine Campbell explained that the program will show how American Indians harvested the sap, which is the consistency of water and 2 to 4 percent sugar, to make dry sugar, and how sap is harvested from maple trees to produce syrup now.

“The Indians mixed the sugar with dried nuts, fruit and pumpkin,” Campbell explained. “At a time when winter stores were down, sugar became a really important food.” Pioneers concocted a treat called “sugar on snow” from the sap, which volunteers will try to re-create for visitors to the Nature Center using crushed ice, she added.

Of the eight states that produce quantities of maple syrup, Michigan ranks about sixth, Campbell said.

Each tour of the program lasts about an hour and a half, and the tours start at half-hour intervals. The program ends with a taste of real maple syrup on mini-waffles, donated by Whole Foods Market.

Maple Syrup Time – Past and Present will be held 9 a.m.-3 p.m. March 2, 9 and 16.

The cost is $7 per person, or $6 for members of the Troy Nature Society and Troy Historical Society. Maple syrup and candy will be available for purchase onsite. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged. Walk-ins are welcome on a space-available basis. Register online at www.troynaturesociety.org or call (248) 688-9703.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.