In late winter in the Northeast, when temperatures finally poke above the freezing mark during the day and then back below 32 degrees overnight, the sap begins to run in maple trees. That’s when students in two CIA classes head out to tap the trees and learn all about making maple syrup.
This winter marks the fifth year that students in Chef Peter Greweling’s
Chocolate and Confectionery Technology and Techniques class and Dr. Deirdre Murphy’s
Ecology of Food course have worked together to collect the sap and make maple syrup.
Using about two dozen maple trees on the north side of campus, the students assist Professors Greweling and Murphy with each step of the process, including tapping, collecting the sap, boiling, straining, testing, and bottling the syrup. By joining classes together from the college’s Applied Food Studies
and Baking & Pastry Arts
majors, this project covers both the historical and economic significance of maple syrup to the region as well as the how-to aspects of developing syrup from tree-to-pancake.
“It is pretty miraculous to watch the nearly clear, barely sweet sap transform into rich, sweet syrup through the process of evaporation,” Chef Greweling says. “Making maple syrup is a natural fit for our students; it is as much an ingrained part of the culture of the Hudson Valley as making wine is in California.”
It takes about 40 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup. The syrup produced this year will be used in Chef Greweling’s class and incorporated into desserts at the CIA’s restaurants on campus.