Maple Syrup Used for Upcoming Pancake Feed
Update: The pancake feed has been postponed due to COVID-19.
Auburndale, WI (OnFocus) It’s sap season for students at Auburndale High School who are getting a start-to-finish look at how to make maple syrup this spring.
Students put in 250 taps to collect sap at the nearby school forest, collecting 300 gallons on Monday alone.
The operation has progressed from a few years ago, when just a few trees were tapped and sap was collected in tin cans. The district was able to purchase better equipment to collect sap with some of the funds from a $25,000 grant through the America’s Farmers organization, sponsored by the Bayer Fund, including taps, collection bags, filtration press, and the tools to do gravity feed tubing.
“We can connect 10 trees together, and that [sap] goes into tubing, which then goes into a 15 gallon collection barrel,” said Mark Cournoyer, agriscience instructor. “It’s been working really slick. It’s kind of the way the industry is going now, to either vacuum or gravity tubing just for the sake of time management.”
His classes partner with Maple Haus, a state-inspected maple processing facility not far from the school, to help process the sap once it’s collected. Classes save about 90 gallons of sap to boil down using an old-fashioned pan method over two days, and then bottle it on the third day.
Making maple syrup gives students the practical skills they can use in their own backyard.
“Many of them have their own maple tree at home and this give them the opportunity and the background to be more self-sustainable, if they want to make their own maple syrup,” Cournoyer said. “That’s a pretty neat thing.”
A few community members have asked to have their trees tapped as well. “We have a couple people who collect and leave buckets out by the road and we just add that to our tank as we go by,” he said. “It’s caught a lot of popularity.”
Thanks to the completion of a new gravel road in the school forest, the collection process is made more enjoyable during a muddy time of year which saw some students lose their boots. The road was made possible through a Farm Tech Days and Tractor Supply Company grant, plus memorial funds.
Students will be able to taste their efforts at the 60th annual FFA pancake feed at Auburndale High School on March 22 from 9-2 p.m. The event uses 13 gallons of maple syrup — which takes over 500 gallons of sap to make.
“Nothing says Wisconsin more than maple syrup,” said Cournoyer.
The students will make other products such as maple sugar, which will be turned into maple cotton candy to sell at the pancake feed. They will also learn how to make maple butter, maple cream, and even maple cookies and cheesecake.
On the menu is potato and buttermilk pancakes, sausage, cheese curds, milk, and dessert. The cost is $9 for adults and $4 for youth 12 and under. Preschoolers eat free.
photos by Mark Cournoyer