Tap into the sap: Maple syrup fests herald spring

It may not seem like it, but spring is on the way. A sure sign of that lies in the maple trees.

Area park districts, museums and forest preserves are gearing up to tap that sap, the delicious liquid that’s been rising up inside maple trees.

The most common use of sap these days is in maple syrup. Once it’s boiled down, 40 gallons of sap equals one gallon of maple syrup. Thankfully, modern-day technology has made the process of sap collection and evaporation easier.

Nonetheless, you can see how sap was collected back in the day at a number of events this month.

Sap Collectors of DuPage Forest Preserve: 4-5 p.m. March 7 at Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center, 3609 Spring Road, Oak Brook. Visitors will hike to the sugar bush and collect sap from the sugar maple trees. Ages 6 and up; under 14 with an adult. $3. To register, call (630) 850-8110 or see Dupageforest.org.

Maple Sugaring Days: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 8 and 1 to 4 p.m. March 9 at Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St, Naperville. (630) 420-6010; Napersettlement.com. Maple Sugaring Days will include demonstrations on tree tapping and how to boil sap down to make sweet maple syrup. Children can try a yoke and bucket, which is how water was gathered or sap might have been carried in the 1800s. The Battlefield Balladeers will play 19th-century music while visitors dance a reel, and there will be hands-on indoor activities for children. Cost, $8-$12.

Maple Tapping Pancake Picnic: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 8 or 15 at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle. MortonArb.org. Experience maple tapping and the making of maple syrup in all its stages. Hike down Thornhill Trail and see for yourself how sap flows from the sugar maple tree and is collected. You can even taste the sap right there at the tree. You’ll also learn how to safely drill into a maple without damaging the tree. The breakfast includes four silver dollar pancakes with a side of bacon and samples of four different grades of syrup.

Sap’s Rising: 1:30-2:30 p.m. March 8-9, 15-16, 22-23 at River Trail Nature Center, Milwaukee Ave., Northbrook. (847) 824-8360; Fpdcc.com/events. Walk in the sugar maple forest as winter comes to an end and learn about the sweet history of maple syrup making. There will be a Maple Syrup Celebration on March 23. Celebrate the arrival of spring with a special day of activities including crafts, games, tree tapping and maple syrup history.

MapleFest: 9 a.m.-1 p.m. March 15 at the Red Oak Nature Center, located on Route 25 in North Aurora, one mile north of Route 56. (630) 897-1808; Foxvalleyparkdistrict.org. The free event includes hourly tours where guests will tap a maple tree, then see the process of how sap is boiled and made into syrup. Maple-themed treats and hot beverages will be sold, as will bottles of Vermont maple syrup, lollipops and candy.

Sugar Bush Fair: 9 a.m. to noon March 15-16 at Spring Valley Nature Center and Heritage Farm, 1111 E. Schaumburg Road, Schaumburg. (847) 985-2100; Parkfun.com. The 30th annual Sugar Bush Fair kicks off with a pancake breakfast. The program will feature demonstrations of syrup making and sap collecting methods used by Native Americans and early pioneers, a children’s puppet show, hayrides and syrup sales. Free admission; breakfast is $5 for full stack and $4 for half stack. Parking is available at Olympic Park, 1675 E. Old Schaumburg Road, with shuttles running to the Nature Center.

Maple Sugaring Days: noon-3 p.m. March 15-16 at LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve, 37W700 Dean St., St. Charles. (630) 444-3190; Kaneforest.com. No registration is required for this free event. Guests will learn to set a tap, see sap simmer over an open fire and identify maple trees.

0 Comments

Modal