In the Jan. 26 issue of the Catholic
Herald, we followed Mark Moran’s environmental science class at Saint
John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Dumfries as they prepared for sap
collecting season, a three-year tradition.
With the record-breaking collection of 80 gallons in 2016, the
class eagerly anticipated a repeat success this year. Unfortunately, February’s
unseasonably warm weather put a damper on their sweet dreams. The temperatures did
not drop below freezing consistently at night for the trees to go dormant.
When the class started collecting around Valentine’s Day they
managed to gather only 1.2 gallons of sap, which would yield only 1.5
tablespoons of syrup.
Virginia winter had one last card to play. A week of chilling
cold and snow during the second week of March caused the school’s red maples to
go dormant. Over the weekend the school’s trees produced 20 gallons of sap,
which Chef Kelly will boil down to make one-third of a gallon of syrup.
While this is a pleasant surprise, there is a catch.
According to Moran, the syrup has a bit of a strange taste.
“This is the first time we have ever had that. I think it might
be due to the fact that the buds are out on the trees,” he said, “Maybe the
trees are releasing something due to the budding process.”
It just goes to show you can never completely predict the outcome
© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017