28 February 2010

Parks Are a Sweet Deal for Residents

Is there any doubt that Somerset County residents enjoy the best park system in the state? I am reminded of that fact every time I discover a new program at one of our facilities.

Today I accompanied the young women of Girl Scout Troop 255 as they learned about maple sugaring during a special presentation at the Environmental Education Center located in Lord Stirling Park, Basking Ridge.

Below are some photos from our day out in the snow at the Sugar Shack. Enjoy.

Somerset County Parks naturalist Monica Juhasz greets her guests after the half-mile hike from the Environmental Education Center to the Sugar Shack.

Ms. Juhasz led us out to the grove of Sugar Maples and provided an interesting overview of maple syrup from pre-colonial times to the present day.

Sugar Maples only grow in New England, New York, New Jersey, and parts of Canada. Sap only runs when nighttime temps are below 32, and daytime temps are above 32. Trees must be at least 10 inches in diameter before they can be tapped.

Everyone got a taste of sap straight from the tree!

Back at the Shack, Ms. Juhasz demonstrates the boiling process. It takes 40 gallons of watery sap to produce one gallon of sweet maple syrup.

And here's the finished product!

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