For as long as I can remember, my oldest son has been obsessed with pancakes. Since he learned to say the word, it’s a frequent mealtime request — and not just for breakfast.
We’ve always used 100% maple syrup in our home, rather than the imitation stuff. The last few years, that’s meant stocking up at a local pancake breakfast during “Maple Season” here in Northeast Ohio. Since I use maple syrup for baking, too, it’s not unusual for us to purchase a whole gallon for the year.
When I heard about Maple Sugaring Weekends at the Lake Metroparks Farmpark, I knew it would make for a great family excursion so my 3-year-old could learn where his favorite pancake topping comes from. Plus, with the playground, animal demonstrations and everything else there is to do at the Farmpark, it’s always worth the trip.
Much of the maple sugaring activity is centered around the Farmpark’s Woodland Center and Plant and Science Center buildings. When we visited last Sunday morning, things were still heating up — literally — from frigid temperatures the night before. The evaporator wasn’t fired up yet because the pipes were still being thawed. But the friendly staff still did a great job explaining and showing how the process works.
My son was amazed when one staffer scooped up a shovelful of amber liquid that had been boiled to midway between sap and syrup. Dozens of jugs hanging overhead demonstrated that it takes 40 gallons of sap to make just one gallon of maple syrup. And, of course, the maple candy and maple stirs available for purchase in the Woodland Center were a hit.
Outside the building, staff members demonstrated the sap-to-syrup process using an outdoor fire, the way someone (with a plethora of sugar maple trees) would do it in their own backyard....