Thursday, April 4, 2013

Wisconsin Maple Syrup

Hey!  Norm's Making Maple Syrup


Norm Mattson
Berryville Farms, Somers Township, Kenosha County, Wisconsin
Meet Norm, my neighbor.
You'll see him in the videos below.  He makes his maple syrup much the same way as the pioneers.  Well......almost.  You see, Norm has an engineering background so his process and record keeping may be a little more technical than our native Americans.  Saying that, he produces some of the best home made maple syrup in the area.  Slam dunk! 
The sugar maple trees in Norm's forest range from young saplings to giants.  He tells the story of a big giant maple that fell during a storm a few years back.  Counting the rings, one earned for each year the tree grew, Norm counted over 200.  That's an old tree!  That tree was carefully aged and dried and is now a Norm-made table and cabinet that will no doubt be heirloom pieces for his children and grandchildren.  He is one talented guy.
Once you have tasted home made maple syrup you will be spoiled forever.  I wish everyone was lucky enough to have a "Norm" in your neighborhood.

Video Above:  Collecting syrup

Norm tells me that tapping season isn't determined by a date on the calendar.  It all depends on weather conditions.  Peak sap flow occurs when it freezes at night and the next day it is bright and sunny in the 40's.  The season is short, usually three to four weeks at best.  By all accounts, it is still winter in Wisconsin in March but that is our "tapping season".  This year, I asked Norm if I could follow him around and learn how he makes his famous syrup.  The day I took the video was windy so you'll have to overlook the noise.  Gee whiz, I am not a Hollywood producer so I hope you overlook my first time producer/director movie making debut!

Video Above:  The Firebox Explanation

Norm explains the process of boiling the sap in his firebox.  After several years of trial and error, he will tell you how he perfected this process.


Video Above:  After the Boil Off

Collecting the syrup and the boil off is only the beginning of making syrup.  There are a few more important steps to do the job correctly.  Norm will tell you why the hydrometer is an important piece of equipment needed to finish making an exceptional batch of syrup!

More Photos

Norm cuts and splits his own firewood,

Norm's home-made firebox and chimney.

Keeping the fire hot is important during the boiling process.
A small hole is made into the trunk of the maple tree and a tap is inserted.  Through the tap, the sap drips down the plastic tube into a covered 5 gallon bucket.

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