Sugar Bush season ends with syrup, paddles, and sugar

During this year’s sugar season, more than 120 volunteers stopped in, and together they collected more than 2000 gallons of sap. Staff and volunteers cooked this sap into about 20 gallons of bottled syrup and a few pounds of maple sugar and candy, which can be purchased at the Language and Culture offices now.

The paddle making workshop spanned two days during the sugar season. Nick Dillingham instructed families and individuals in crafting these paddles from maple woods, using traditional Potawatomi designs. Only hand carving tools were used to create the paddles. The purpose of these paddles is to use them during sugar season to stir the boiling sap.

Language & Culture staff and community volunteers created maple sugar from the finished sap. Participants boiled the sap until it started to foam and turned golden brown. Once it reached that point, they poured it into a wooden bowl and stirred it until it became firm, then chopped it with the wooden spoon to break it up (granulate it). Once it was cooled and broken down, they sifted it through a loosely woven basket to sift the smallest pieces out and keep the large pieces for candy.

Distribution Plan

Language & Culture has three cases of 4-ounce bottles of syrup (72 bottles) created specifically to gift to the elders. Those bottles will be distributed at the May elders business luncheon. If there are any leftover after the business meeting, they will be taken to Elders Hall and distributed to any Pokagon elders who did not receive one at the meeting.

The remaining bottles of syrup and sugar are available for sale to Pokagon citizens and government team members for
gifting and personal use.

  • 96 12-ounce bottles available for $15 each
  • 48 8-ounce bottles available for $10 each
  • 20 2-cup bags of sugar available for $8 a piece
  • 3-tablespoon sample bags are available for $3 each

Maple sugar has a very long shelf life if it is kept sealed and in a cool storage area. Syrup has a shelf life of one year before it should be used. Any syrup that remains unsold once we get closer to the end of the year can be easily turned into candy and sugar so that it will not go to waste.

Sugar Bush Stats

  • Trees were tapped February 14, 2018
  • Taps were pulled March 23 (season lasted 37 days)
  • 120 + volunteers
  • 65 trees tapped
  • 2000 + gallons of sap collected
  • about 20 gallons of syrup yielded
  • about 3 pounds of sugar yielded