Schlosser, McCullagh mark first maple harvest - April 18, 2019
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
The friends and family of Brian Schlosser of the Bluevale area were in for a nice surprise this spring from River’s Edge Acres in the form of organic maple syrup.
Brian Schlosser and Cherida McCullagh gave the age-old practice a whirl this season and the results have been even sweeter than expected.
McCullagh had boiled maple syrup before, Schlosser says, but on a very small scale, essentially producing just a few litres on a small stove. However, Schlosser said that if she wanted to do it this spring and he was going to be involved, he wanted to step it up a bit.
It began just over two months ago when the two took a trip to the furthest reaches of eastern Ontario in Fournier. They agreed to upgrade the operation and travelled east to buy a new stainless steel evaporator built to take 100 tappings.
Between trees from Schlosser’s Ramsay Line property and McCullagh’s Cardiff Road property, as well as tapping trees at neighbour Fran Breckenridge’s house, the pair had 168 trees tapped, so getting the syrup was a little more labour-intensive than anticipated.
Schlosser and McCullagh tapped the first tree on March 7 and spent the subsequent days collecting from the trees. Then, Schlosser spent 17 days boiling the sap in the hopes of creating a sweet end product.
He says it turned into quite an affair. First, Schlosser brought the equipment outside in order to let the steam escape. The following day, it rained, so he put a roof over the setup. The next day it was windy, so they constructed something to keep the wind away. However, as the wind persisted, but frequently changing direction, Schlosser eventually found himself in a maple syrup “igloo” of his own making.
For the next two weeks, Schlosser said it became a 24-hour-a-day job, where he had to wake up every hour through the night to ensure everything was going according to plan in the igloo, because they were working 168 taps through an evaporator made to take 100. He did, however, have some help in the form of a reverse osmosis system, which he said did half the work for him.
While it was just the couple’s first year, Schlosser said they were quite happy with the results, producing 175 litres of maple syrup, much of which they plan to use themselves or give to friends or family in the coming months.
Because of the nature of the season, Schlosser said the syrup came out sweeter than they had expected, but that they’re thrilled with what they’ve been able to bottle.
There was a bit of nostalgia for Schlosser in making syrup this year, he says, as the last year he had made syrup was likely when he was in his teens, the year his father passed away.
Schlosser said that he and McCullagh plan to stay in the syrup game again next season. He says it was a welcome return to a hobby from his childhood.