My friends Sven and Hannah Hoaglund are two incredible people living outside of Tofte, MN who are getting serious about Maple Syrup! I was honored to get an invite to come and document their process this Spring on the North Shore.
The temperature high was around 45 degrees, with many lakes still being frozen over (I brought my kayak hoping to get some paddling in….). The sap was running fierce this year, which is a great thing for producers like the Hoaglunds. The ratio to make 1 gallon of maple syrup is 40 gallons of sap!
The process begins at the maple trees where the sap is tapped to run into either a holding bucket or directly in a main line. That leads to collecting or sending sap to a tank that holds the syrup until it is time to boil. The sap then gets to run into the boiler, where it travels toward an eventual landing pot when it has been reduced to the proper consistency.
Measurements include checking the buoyancy to ensure the precious liquid gold is ready for harvest, ensuring there is a lack of bubbles formed on top of the boiling sap (this causes the sap to stop evaporating), and ensuring the temperature continues to rise by adding more fuel to the fire. The fire has to constantly be fed wood, and the steam rises from the boiler to the top of the structure housing all of the equipment. Drops form on the ceiling until they fall. The steam was welcoming against the backdrop of very cool air temperature. It reminded me of your face being exposed outside of a hot tub mid winter.
It was awesome being able to try some maple water, which is partially reduced. If there were a tea that tasted that good, I would be ordering it a decent amount of the time. I was also ecstatic to be able to try the finished product, and to photograph it on top of some oatmeal blueberry pancakes made by my host!
I hope you enjoy the images of the process!