RICHFIELD — Whether you call it sappin' season, sugarin' season, or syrup season, sap is bursting out of maple trees ready for harvesting.
In Richfield, volunteers at the historical society are busy at work to make the most of the short sappin' season. It lasts roughly from March to April when the conditions are just right.
"Ideally, you have nights below freezing, daytime temperatures in the 40's," Dave Derrick, a volunteer with the Richfield Historical Society said.
Derrick said the historical society has been making syrup for around 20 years. The group has gotten quite good at it too. They earned 2nd place honors at the Phelps Maple Syrup Fest in Wisconsin in 2016 and 3rd in 2019. It's a national competition that features around 50 entries from states like New York and Michigan.
Maple syrup is judged on a few different criteria: "Nice clean flavor, clean appearance, crystal clear. It's mostly about flavor," Derrick said.
However, it's easy enough for amateurs to make it at home too. All you have to do put a hole into a maple tree, add a tap for the syrup to flow through, attach a bag to the tap, allow the bag to fill and then boil the sap. It's as simple as that.
Although, you will need a sizable amount of sap. It takes the Richfield Historical Society about 150 gallons of sap to make six gallons of syrup.
"Four days we should be able to finish a batch have it bottled and ready to go," Derrick said.
He said doing it at home is becoming more popular too because of the pandemic.
"The best year for many, because people I think are staying at home."
To try this award-winning syrup, you can go to the free Maple Syrup Family Day at the Richfield Historic Park at 1896 Hwy 164, Richfield, WI on March 27 for a day full of different maple syrup activities. Kids can participate and learn how to make it too.
MORE MAPLE SYRUP FACTS
Wisconsin is the fourth-largest producer of maple syrup in the country, according to a 2014 stat from the Wisconsin Maple Syrup Producers Association. The Wisconsin Historical Society says the Badger State is the third-largest producer, but doesn't specify a date with that information.
Quebec, Canada produces the most maple syrup in the world.
Maple syrup changes in color as the season progresses. Derrick said that the first few batches are lighter than the last ones. A light flavor means that it will have a softer, less intense taste, whereas darker syrup means a more robust flavor.
Once the trees start to bud in April, the sap turns bitter, which is why it's important to harvest fast.
Maple syrup must have a sugar content of 66 percent to 67 percent, otherwise it cannot be entered into competitions.
Home-made maple syrup is seriously easy to make. Watch the above video or click on this link.