Maple sugaring is a New Hampshire tradition, and each year we join in on the action by tapping the maple trees right here on campus.
Maple sugaring season in New Hampshire typically runs from mid-February to mid-April. Our sugaring season was atypical this year, but the “Bucket Brigade” consisting of about 20 residents had lots of fun taking turns checking and collecting sap as needed. With the fickle weather we weren’t able to get our taps in until late February and the season finished the last week in March. Even after adding 5 more trees on our Heritage Heights campus to our crop, the harvest was spotty at best. But don’t worry, we were still able to collect enough sap to host our Annual Pancake breakfast on April 13th and 14th!
If you haven’t experienced fresh, New Hampshire maple syrup drizzled over a warm, fluffy pancake, you’re missing out!
How Does Maple Sugaring Work?
In late February, a group of residents bundle up and head out to drill small holes in the trunks of our maple trees. We then insert a spout and hang buckets from the spouts to collect the sap. When the frozen sap inside the maple trees starts to thaw as the weather warms, it moves and builds up pressure inside the tree. Eventually, the pressure will push the sap out of the freshly drilled holes into the buckets. Chilly nights and sunny days make for perfect sap production conditions!
Residents then collect the sap in the buckets and transport it to the sugar house. At the sugar house, the sap is boiled down in an evaporator over a blazing hot fire. As the steam rises from the evaporator pans, the sap becomes more concentrated and starts to condense until it’s the consistency of syrup. It then must be drawn from the evaporator, filtered, graded, and bottled. According to the experts at the New Hampshire Maple Experience, it takes about forty gallons of sap to make just one gallon of pure maple syrup!