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Gardening Resources What You Can Do Embracing The Trees
From Sap to Syrup: Maple Trees at the Canadian Ashram
Boiling the sap
Boiling the sap

Maple syrup. Could there be a sweeter gift from nature? Sevites (volunteers) at the Canadian ashram were already harvesting honey from the bees, but extracting maple syrup from the trees is a relatively new venture.

It all started in the summer of 2019, the last time Amma graced the ashram with her physical presence. The ashram’s next door neighbors gifted Amma some maple syrup that they had made from trees on their property, and Amma began enquiring about maple trees on the ashram property.

So while the weather was still warm, and while the leaves were still on the trees, a small group of us went to the back of the ashram property, into the forested area, and marked which trees were maples. After the leaves fall, of course, it becomes much harder to decipher the type of tree one is looking at.

Next, through autumn, we did our research and gathered some supplies: food-grade buckets, taps, hoses.

After a long winter, we went out and tapped our first trees. As our boots crunched through the snow we looked at all the bare trees around us, grateful for the foresight to have marked the maples in advance. Even then, it was hard to find them all.

Using a drill first, we made a small hole in the south-facing trunk of the tree. We inserted the taps, connected the hoses, and placed the other end of the hose in the bucket, being sure to fully cover the bucket so thirsty animals or insects couldn’t get in.

This needs to be done when the weather is just right: cold at night and warming in the daytime.

The sap runs through the tree, out the tap, through the hose, and into the bucket. Once the bucket is full - about a week later - one can either replace the bucket with a clean empty one or remove the tap. We removed the tap.

We carried our dozen or so buckets out from the forest, back to the building.

Tapping the trees
Tapping the trees
Tapping the trees

The sap is a clear liquid, resembling slightly sweet water. To look or taste the sap, it’s amazing to think this will turn into maple syrup. But after lots of boiling, it will indeed turn into that thick and sticky syrup we all know and love.

Within a few days of bringing our buckets in, we set to work in boiling it down to syrup. (You don’t want to let your fresh sap sit out too long before boiling it down; it’s possible for it to go bad.)


We dug three large pits and filled them with firewood. Using huge pots (the size you might see in use on Amma’s tour), we set our sap over the fire, watching it slowly simmer away.

After hours of tending the fire, the sap started turning from clear to amber. For the final stages, we moved the amber liquid to smaller pots and boiled it inside, where we could keep it clear of smoke and ash, as well as pay attention to our candy thermometer.

Once it hits 104 degrees Celsius (that’s 2190F for those in the US), it’s ready to bottle.

Boilinng the syrup Boilinng the syrup Boilinng the syrup
From fires to syrup

Finished bottles of syrup
Maple syrup is truly nature’s gift, and these bottles were inspired directly by our beloved Amma.

"Plant trees. It is a blessing to do so. Trees outlive us and provide fruit and shade to coming generations. Together we can restore nature’s beauty to the face of the world. Planting a tree is selfless service to society. Just as we enjoy the presence of trees planted by people in the past, we too should plant for the future generations." - Amma

We are grateful to generations passed, who planted and nourished these trees. We lay this project down humbly at Amma’s feet.

Natasha Mann - Toronto

Read Hermann Hesse's A Love Letter to Trees in the Q1 2023 Newsletter >>


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