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On tap: Syrup season is starting

Grab a spoon, it's maple syrup season. The season isn't long, only about a month, and is completely dependent on temperatures being freezing at night and above freezing during the day. Sap in Minnesota usually runs from about March 15 to April 20...

Participants collect buckets of sap under the watchful eye of tour guide Billy Olmstead (right) Saturday, March 30, during the Maple Syrup Farm Tour hosted by the Northland Arboretum at the farm of Harry and Judy Worm in Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery and Video
Participants collect buckets of sap under the watchful eye of tour guide Billy Olmstead (right) Saturday, March 30, during the Maple Syrup Farm Tour hosted by the Northland Arboretum at the farm of Harry and Judy Worm in Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery and Video

Grab a spoon, it's maple syrup season.

The season isn't long, only about a month, and is completely dependent on temperatures being freezing at night and above freezing during the day. Sap in Minnesota usually runs from about March 15 to April 20 according to the DNR website.

People got the chance to check out the syrup-making process Saturday, March 30, at the farm of Harry and Judy Worm off Red Pine Road, Brainerd, during a tour hosted by the Northland Arboretum.

The morning tour filled up fast and a second tour in the afternoon was added.

The tour started off with explanation by Harry Worm on the origins of the farm name and the idea to start maple syruping.

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"We call this place Clayhill Farm and part of it is because, oh, about 10, 11 years ago, my dear darling wife here was out with her brother fixing fence up on the one big hill on the farm, which happens to be a clay hill, in the fall-September, October- beautiful, beautiful maple trees in beautiful color and her brother said to her, 'You know, why don't you make maple syrup? You know, look at all the trees. You could do that.'" Harry Worm said. "Well, since then we've been making maple syrup. We started that next spring with a turkey cooker and 10 taps. We now tap about 350 trees and we bought a commercial boiler to do it."

The tour was split into three sections; into the woods to see the tapped maples and collect the sap, over to the sugar shack to see where the water is boiled out of the sap to make syrup and a stop in the workshop for sampling syrup.

Taste tests were part of the whole tour. Samples from buckets of sap in the woods were poured into tiny paper cups for drinking-it tasted like sweetened water-to spoonfuls of syrup drawn directly from the cooker before it was even filtered, which tasted like warm liquid maple candy.

Each batch of syrup is different and changes throughout the season, by the end of the season the syrup will be darker and taste more like molasses. The group was able to taste test syrup from the beginning of the season and the end of last season and fresh pancakes were on hand for taste testing.

For more photos, go to https://bit.ly/2TOXcpb .

Growing up in the Brainerd lakes area I realized that I never wanted to leave, so it is a true blessing that I was able to find a job at the Dispatch doing something I love. As a visual journalist, I work in the mediums of photography and videography to bring our readers everything from sports, hard news, weather and local events to slice of life documentation of our coverage area.
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