Since 2007, students have been running Ithaca’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?
2008-2009 season 5 gallons
2009-2010 season 2.5 gallons
2010-2011 season 10.8 gallons
2011-2012 season 10.5 gallons
2012-2013 season 18.1 gallons
2013-2014 season 8.67 gallons
2014-2015 season 15.9 gallons
2015-2016 season 18.2 gallons
2016-2017 season 18 gallons
How Maple Syrup is Made:
Step 1: In January, students drill and hammer taps and hooks into trees. We mainly use sugar maple, but other maples can be tapped as well.
Step 2: We hang buckets from metal hooks and wait for the flowing sap to collect. Day by day, the sap collects in the buckets, which we empty daily in storage containers most holding 30-40 gallons of sap.
Step 3: Once a 8-10 storage containers are full we filter the sap and the evaporator is fired up.
Step 4: Boiling begins! Our wood-fired evaporator is fueled by logs that we chop 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, we empty the contents of the evaporator into buckets and bring them into the lab.
Step 5: We continue the boil (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! Our syrup is sold in room 282 in the Center of Natural Sciences, the Ithaca College bookstore, and at our annual maple syrup open house on April, 21st which we invite members of the community to tour the Sugar Bush. You can also order syrup on our website.