Sap started flowing early this year in Maine because of the warm winter, and Bowdoin’s organic garden manager Katherine Creswell and her student volunteers sprang into action to catch some of it. By early March, they had 28 taps on sugar maples around the Schwartz Center and behind Quinby House.
Bowdoin will host a Maple Syrup Sunday event for the college and community March 25, during which people can learn how to make maple syrup and eat pancakes dribbled with fresh syrup. Any syrup left over will be given to Bowdoin’s dining halls to use in the college’s annual locovore dinner or in baked goods, according to Michele Gaillard, associate director of operations for Bowdoin’s dining service.
Last year was the first year Creswell tapped trees at Bowdoin, and she produced five gallons of syrup from about 300 gallons of sap. By last week, the silver buckets set underneath the taps had collected 100 gallons. Whether there’s a lot or a little depends on the weather: Sap flows during a consistent cycle of frosty nights and warmer days.
To begin making the syrup, Creswell started with boiling 30 gallons of sap over an outdoor fire. Seven hours later she was nearly done with the task, with just a small pot of caramel-colored syrup to show for her work. She filters the syrup over night in a big coffee-filter type contraption to have “clean, finished syrup in the morning,” she said.