Since 2007, students have been running Ithaca College’s very own maple syrup production business; turning semi-sweet sap into rich, golden, delicious maple syrup. Every step in the process is run by students, from tapping the trees at our on-campus sugarbush, to bottling and finally marketing the finished product. We tap about 100 maple trees in our sugarbush.
How Much Syrup Have we Made?
How Maple Syrup is Made:
Step 1: In January, students drill and hammer taps into trees. Mainly, sugar maples are used, but other maples can be tapped as well.
Step 2: Students run plastic tubing from the tree taps into 5 gallon buckets and wait for the flowing sap to collect. Day by day, the sap collects in the buckets. Buckets are emptied daily into storage containers that hold 30-40 gallons of sap.
Step 3: Once 8-10 storage containers are full the sap is filtered and the evaporator is fired up.
Step 4: Boiling begins! The wood-fired evaporator is fueled by logs that are chopped throughout the boil. As the fire burns, the sap begins to transform from a yellowish color to a thick, deep amber. When the boil is nearly done, the contents of the evaporator are emptied into buckets and brought back to the lab.
Step 5: The boil is continued (but indoors this time) using big metal pots, hotplates, thermometers, and refractometers – all to insure the most perfect tasting syrup. At the exact right sugar content (determined by our refractometer), the boiling is complete and the bottling can begin.
Step 6: Each bottle is filled, capped, tagged, and labeled. Once students set a fair price for the syrup, bottles start selling off the shelf! Syrup is sold in room 282 in the Center of Natural Sciences, the Ithaca College bookstore, and at our annual maple syrup open house. You can also order syrup on our website.