Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Sugaring in the Suburbs Don't Be a Sap! Buy Your Sirup

Cleveland Press February 8, 1964

The sap started running at our house and life hasn't been quite the same since. For one thing it's a rather odd sight -- those buckets hanging from the maple trees and us living not more than five minutes from a CTS bus stop.

For another, you can't turn the stuff on and off at your convenience. The temperature goes up and the sap starts dripping and you scurry around putting out the buckets. Next thing you know the temperature has dropped and there you are -- a bucket full of ice.

Now if you were expecting to read about how to make maple sirup, forget it. We have three sugar maples in our yard and a kindly neighbor, Parmer Sims, 4233 Bluestone Rd., who knows about these things, suggested last summer that come spring our trees ought to be tapped.

A FEW WEEKS AGO, right during a warm spell, I arrived home and found that he had drilled holes and fitted them out so that sap flowed through small pipes into buckets.

Well, this thing might be fine out in the country where they have hundreds of trees and an outdoor shed to boil down the sap into sirup.

But it's a little different when you haul it into the house and pour it into a kettle kept simmering on an electric range.

THOSE WHO KNOW say that it takes 35 to 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of sirup. That's an awful lot of boiling, an awful lot of steam on the kitchen walls and windows and an awful lot of electricity.

Now just stop to figure it out. Start two gallons boiling and you'll end up with a little more than six ounces of sirup.

I offered to tend to the boiling the other day. "Forget it," says I grandly, I'll watch it."

It was going down so slowly, how was I to know there'd be trouble? Thick, burning maple sugar has a pungent odor, that's what it has.

My wife was a little perturbed. Perturbed? She was furious.

I may not have learned to make maple sirup, but I know all about scouring burned kettles.

The sap resembles clear, cold spring water. It's only slightly sweet.

THE YOUNGSTERS DRINK it straight. But then little boys ages two, four and six have strange tastes. What we lose in electricity costs we may make up in our water bills. But I doubt it.

Frankly, production has been discouraging. We've had enough sirup for a Sunday morning breakfast of pancakes and that's about it. But there'll be a few more ounces before all the sap stops running.

One encyclopedia reference, otherwise not very helpful, pointed out that sap ferments if not processed right away.

That ended the idea of storing the sap for a day or two and boiling it at convenient intervals.

Can you imagine all that fermented sap? Fermented grape juice is one thing -- but can you picture someone offering you a glass of maple sap wine?