Saturday, April 7, 2012

Hedmark’s Maple Ridge

Hello! I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend so far. This morning, I went to a family-owned maple syrup farm with Eric and his mom and got to see how pure maple syrup is made! His mom is friends with the man who runs the business, Fred, and when she saw that he was having an open house today she asked if I’d be interested in going. Of course I said yes!

The open house was about thirty minutes away in Fence, Wisconsin so our travels took us over the Wisconsin border. For some reason, crossing a state border fascinated me so I just had to get a picture next to the Wisconsin sign.

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Soon we arrived at our destination, Hedmark's Maple Ridge.

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We quickly went on a search for Fred because we were eager to learn about his operation and how his family turns tree sap into the delicious syrup that I eat on a regular basis. Luckily it didn’t take too long and he didn’t waste any time telling us!

First, he showed us all of the tubing that he has connected to the maple trees.

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It doesn’t look like that much in the picture, but I believe he said he had almost 800 trees tapped (meaning there’s a hole punctured in the tree to remove the sap) and had room for nearly 1200 more! Some of the tubing was pretty intense.

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A vacuum removes the sap from the trees and moves it along through all of the tubing.

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Fred has a full time job during the day, and making maple syrup is something extra that he does. Therefore, since he can’t be working on it all of the time, the sap is stored in giant containers like this one until the next step of the syrup-making process.

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Next, the sap moves into the “cooker.”

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It heats the sap up and the water evaporates, leaving nothing but pure maple syrup. That’s it! No flavors, artificial colors, or other additives are added to the final product. I already knew that pure maple syrup was free of these things, but I didn’t realize how “simple” that act of producing the syrup actually is. It’s literally just tree sap with the water removed. Pretty cool!

Some fun facts:

  • It takes nearly 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of pure maple syrup.
  • Sap is only 2-3% sugar, while maple syrup is about 66% sugar.
  • Maple syrup can only be made once the temperatures are above freezing, but before the trees start budding. This year, thanks to our record high March temperatures, Fred only had about 10 days where he could actually run his operation and extract the sap from the trees.

After the tour we helped ourselves to a complimentary breakfast consisting of homemade buttermilk pancakes, sausage, maple cookies, orange juice, and hot maple cider.

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Oh, and of course, maple syrup Winking smile.

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Delicious!

It was a fun morning and I’m glad that we stopped by Hedmark’s Maple Ridge.

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Right now we’re about to pop in a movie, but I’ll see ya soon with a final recap of my weekend! Have a great night, friends, and Happy Easter to all who are celebrating tomorrow Smile.

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