Tapping for Sweet Sap

This year marks the earliest that the Ennis family has tapped trees in the past thirty years! The early thaw this February took them by surprise, and they had to make haste to get tapping before the weather turned cold again. It takes them about five days to get everything ready for tapping – they were set up by March 1st. This weekend is the final weekend for tapping, and now they are working hard on boiling the sap into the syrup we know and love.

Working so closely with farmers and producers means we have the pulse on the ways climate change is already affecting our forests and farmlands. Unexpected, early thaws are one way that we can see the weather patterns are changing. This is why buying local is so important! The more robust our local food economy is, the better farmers and producers can adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change.

Personally, I’m a maple syrup addict, so I am pretty happy that Martin Ennis and his family were able to catch the sap before it was gone! Did you know that Martin’s kids are the 5th generation to be making maple syrup on the Ennis family farm? They are able to tap some of the same trees that Martin’s great grandfather, James Ennis, was tapping during WW2! Pictured below is his daughter Jessica, collecting sap and bottling it.

Martin's daughter, Jessica, collects syrup

Tapping for sap and boiling it into syrup and sugar is an intense process, requiring all hands on deck to move quickly. From what I understand of tapping and boiling sap, timing is everything. Nothing can be left unattended even for a short time, that’s how fast paced the flurry of activity is!

There are also more sustainable methods for tapping trees – maples are able to heal over openings if they are done correctly (they form a clear glue/sap-like substance over the holes). It’s also a good idea to rotate the trees you tap every few years in order to relieve some of the older maples.

Wood evaporator
Wood evaporator

The Ennis family uses other methods to ensure they have a low-carbon impact. They actually bought the first high-efficiency wood evaporator in Ontario for a mid-sized maple farm, pictured above! This way they can use wood fuel from dead trees on their farm instead of using oil. They also have a reverse osmosis machine that removes up to 75% of the water from the sap before they begin boiling it to syrup. This handy machine means they only burn 25% of the wood they would use otherwise, and they can make up to 700L using only one cord of wood! This wood evaporator is nicknamed “The Beast” for good reason!

The grades of syrup they produce – Golden Delicate, Amber-Rich & Dark-Robust – contain the same sugar content at 66.5 brix.

Soon we’ll have a new batch of fresh syrup in from Ennis Maple, and we’re so excited!

Also – don’t forget – we carry Sapsucker as well! This subtle, sweet, clear delicious maple water is a beautiful addition to a meal as a standalone beverage, or can be used in unique ways in cocktails, for a truly Canadian beverage!

By: Genrys Goodchild