Feeding The Beast
Photograph - Photography
Maple Sugaring Series
Farmer feeding wood into the maple sugar evaporator inside the family's Vermont sugar shack.
When you buy real natural maple syrup (as opposed to factory produced artificially flavored corn syrup), you are supporting a way of life. In rural area through out New England, local farmers tap maple trees on their land and use traditional wood fired evaporators to boil and reduce the sap into sweet liquid gold. This sugar house in Hartland Four Corners was build in 1954. Four generations of have been involved in the annual spring ritual of harvesting and producing sweet syrup from maple sap in this hot and steamy sugar house.
When a bucket fills with maple sap, the sap is collected and dumped into a holding tank. Once the holding tank is full, the sap is transported to a sugaring house, where all of the equipment is kept. The sap is poured into a maple syrup evaporator; that's where it is boiled down. The evaporator is crucial to the maple-syrup-production process. Maple sap is mostly water, and all of this water must be boiled out of the sap to concentrate the sugars into syrup.
When the sap is poured into the maple syrup evaporator, it is first heated through with steam. The evaporator produces steam, and a series of pipes transports the cold sap through this steam. Once the sap is heated to almost boiling by the steam, it is delivered to large, flat pans where it is boiled until the water evaporates, leaving the sugary syrup behind. The syrup is then drawn into containers and filtered to remove any impurities. After it's filtered, the syrup is bottled and ready to consume.
Photography by Edward M. Fielding
March 27th, 2013
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