Today, I went to the Mill Grove Maple Sugar Festival in Audubon, Pennsylvania. The John James Audubon Center is also located there. They were demonstrating how the Native Americans, colonial people, and current day people make maple syrup and maple sugar from the sap of maple trees. It takes approximately forty three gallons of sap from maple trees to make one gallon of maple syrup. And each maple tree only produces enough sap each season to make one quart of maple syrup. Maple cream and maple sugar is then made by boiling the maple syrup to an even greater density.
In the above picture, a volunteer is explaining how Native Americans made maple syrup in American colonial times. The maple sap was collected in hewed-out sections of logs. To make the maple sap turn into maple syrup and eventually maple sugar, hot stones heated in a wood fire were put into the maple sap. By this method, they evaporated the water from the maple sap.
The above bowl contains the three essential non-meat foods of the Native Americans. They were corn, squash, and beans. They would often mix maple sugar together with these three foods for trail rations on hunting or migratory trips. Perhaps this was their equivalent of our power bars of today.
Colonial Americans first learned about maple syrup from Native Americans. The colonists initially used hewed out logs and wooden stirrers such as in the picture above. They then followed the same method as Native Americans of making maple syrup by putting hot stones in the sap.
However, colonial Americans with their technology quickly switched over to making maple syrup in huge cast iron kettles heated directly by wood fires underneath them.
It was fascinating to watch, learn, and sample even though it was a blustery cold day.