By Robert Stoneback
The Danville News
DANVILLE — Trinity Childcare collected their end of a sweet deal Tuesday morning during a demonstration on maple syrup collecting.
Danville residents Gavin Noble and Chris Hall, who both harvest maple syrup as a hobby, asked permission of Trinity United Methodist Church to harvest sap from maple trees on its property. To sweeten the deal, they agreed to also turn it into a lesson for child care classes.
Noble showed the children a jar of sap he collected earlier in the season. The clear liquid looks and tastes similar to water, he said. It’s only after the sap is cooked that it turns into the familiar brown syrup that’s poured over pancakes.
Hall used a power drill and a hammer to poke a hole in a maple tree near the church’s playground. After cleaning wood shavings away from the hole, he placed a spigot in the tree and tied a plastic jug underneath the tap. Hall and Noble would return later to see how much sap had been collected from the tree.
They then allowed the children to taste test the sap and compare it with a sample of their finished maple syrup.
Noble collected syrup for four years, after learning how to do so at Montour Preserve. Hall joined him for the first time this year. They usually collect syrup from trees around their houses or on friends’ properties. There are a lot of maple trees on the church’s property, Noble said.
The two cooked their first batch of maple syrup this season just last week. They boiled 60 gallons of sap over a fire outside Noble’s house over two days, cooking it in trays similar to those used at food buffets.
That 60 galloons of sap yielded one and a half gallons of syrup. “It takes a lot of sap and a lot of time and patience” to make syrup, Noble said.
“We share with people who are part of the process,” such as friends who provide firewood and people who let them use their property, he said.
The conditions for collecting the syrup need to be just right. Temperatures need to be freezing the night before a harvest and then rise to the 40s or 50s the following morning.
“That’s the only time the sap flows,” Noble said.
The harvest season usually lasts from mid February to mid March, but it started later this year due to the cold weather.
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