Sweet Success at Maple Lane Sugary

Photo: Steve Ftorek stands watch over the new evaporator that takes only two hours to turn sap into syrup. This model gets hot enough so there isn't even ash left when the wood burns off. 

By Amy Jeanroy

 The 34th annual Maple Sunday was celebrated in sweet style at Maple Lane Sugary in Robbinston. 

Route 1 was filled with parked cars on either side, as patrons headed down the maple tree lined dirt road, toward the sugary, or building where the tree sap is processed into syrup. The trees were tapped and held a bright silver bucket or two in order to catch the sap. 

At the end of the road, a group was gathered outside of a wooden building with steam billowing out the roof. This is where the magic happens. 

Inside, the room smells faintly of maple syrup mixed with wood smoke, and the air is steamy as it rises up through the chimney. The steam is the excess water that is evaporating to reduce 40 gallons of sap into one gallon of syrup. 

Maple Sunday was a chance for the public to step inside of a true sugary and ask all the experts all the burning maple syrup questions that you wanted. For instance, did you know that there are actually 4 grades of syrup, ranging in an almost clear, faintly brown color, to a rich, dark amber? Each grade has a completely different flavor profile, with the darkest used most often for recipes. Trees can have any number of taps, and although the taps look identical on the same tree, one side could produce a steady stream of sap, while on the opposite side barely a drop. The perfect sugaring weather is cold nights and warm days, and a tree is around 40 years old before it is large enough in diameter to be tapped. 

The equipment used to make syrup looks almost the same as it did 20 years ago, but it is far more efficient. For years, what once took three days to evaporate sap into syrup now takes two hours. 

Visitors had a taste of pure maple syrup on ice cream and then signed a guest book and tried their hand at some guessing games to win free syrup. 

Maple Lane Sugary is owned by Howie and Mary Ann Duvall, and this year marks their first participation in Maple Sunday. There was a steady stream of visitors enjoying the tour and a taste of a truly Made in Maine treat. 

Tessa Chaffey Ftorek explains how to turn sap into syrup to homeschoolers Bazzy and Bekah Jeanroy.