One man’s front
yard can be another man’s sugar bush providing you have a
few maple trees on your property.
resident Pierre Gravelle produces his own maple syrup
from sap he gets from five maple trees in his front
yard. FRED SHERWIN PHOTO
In the tiny village
of Navan, just 10 minutes south of Orléans, self-avowed
maple syrup lover Pierre Gravelle has been tapping the maple
trees on his residential property for the past two years.
He has four trees
in all, which last year produced 400 litres of sap which
he boiled down to 10 litres of golden maple syrup.
“I retired last
year so I figured why not? My son-in-law’s family has a
sugar bush in Sarsfield and my wife and I really like maple
syrup so I thought why not give it a try,” says Gravelle.
once worked as a technician for Spar Aerospace, making maple
syrup is not exactly rocket science.
All it takes
is a spigot to tap into the tree and a bucket. Total cost
– about $10. Oh, and you need a maple tree, or two, or three.
The more the merrier, says Gravelle, who expanded his operation
to include several trees on his son-in-law’s family property
in Sarsfield this year.
To process the
sap, which has the consistency of sugar water, into syrup
takes heat and a little patience.
The heat source
should preferably be outdoors. Gravelle found that out the
hard way last year when he tried to process the sap on his
The vapour that’s
produced when you boil the sap has a high sugar content
and it can be very sticky.
uses a large metal pot over a propane burner in his backyard.
his trees over a week ago, he’s managed to produced 1.5
litres of syrup so far this season.
Maple syrup production
is extremely weather dependent. The optimal condi- tions
require cool evenings combined with warm sunny days and
very little wind.
When the sap
is running, it’s the consistency of sugar water. Some people
simply boil it to remove any impurities and drink then drink
it like water.
Maple water as
it’s called, is rich in nutrients and minerals including
calcium, potassium, manganese and magnesium.
warns it can also be a diurectic if you drink too much.
The main advantage
to making your own maple syrup is economic. A 540ml can
of maple syrup can cost as much as $10. Depending on how
often you use it, it can easily add up.
the 10 litres he made last year cost him about $40, but
that’s because it was his first year using the spigots and
buckets. His only cost this year will be the propane he’ll
use to process the sap and the mason jars to store the syrup
“It’s a nice
hobby and we really like maple syrup, especially when you
make it yourself,” Gravelle says with obvious pride.
They are a number
of sources on the Internet to help the a maple syrup lover
makes his own product. The only thing that is absolutely
necessary are the maple trees.
was made possible thanks to the generous support of our
local business partners.)