Maple Syrup Moonscape

by Tig Tillinghast

Oldtimers down here refer to a “maple moon,” the full moon closest to the harvest season. They hold that the sap really breaks only once the maple moon comes. I even heard one talk about a gravitational effect on the trees. I have a lot of respect for a lot of what these oldtimers say, but when it comes to maple syrup being affected by the moon, I get into a lot of arguments. We have a chalk board in our sugar house, and it’s a pretty odd site to see the formula for gravitational force juxtaposed against our lists of sap and maple syrup outputs per night. Makes it look like we’re doing something sciency.

[Just Earth]

More odd looking was the moonscape we created last night, taking the hardwood coals out of the evaporator after we shut down. We’d run out of sap, and it was going to be a rather close thing as to whether the latent heat in the evaporator, including the coals, would have continued to boil down that sap to maple syrup and then beyond and eventually burn the pans up. To be safe, we took out about two trash can loads of white-hot coals and put them in our remaining snow pile. Someone said it looked like a moonscape; another said it looked like a lava flow.

I don’t like to waste heat and wood like that, but I’d been deliberately cutting it close, trying to draw off some maple syrup one more time before we shut down. As it was, we just missed it, with the sap in the sugar pan not quite making it to the density we like. That super-concentrated sap we held over sure made a lot of maple syrup the next day. We drew off seven and a half gallons of honest syrup within the first five minutes of firing up that arch. Our biggest draw yet.