Forest Glen Preserve began producing maple syrup commercially in 1984. In the early years, maple syrup demonstrations were held for the public by simply boiling down maple sugar water. This was very time consuming and since it requires forty-two gallons of sugar water to produce a single gallon of syrup, the output was minimal. Therefore, a modern 30 inch by 10 foot evaporator was purchased and housed in a special building called the “Sugar Bush”. Although, a sugar bush is actually the area in which the sugar maple trees are tapped.
Each February through March, school children visit the Sugar Bush to witness the making of pure maple syrup. Before they leave, they are able to taste the finished product.
The production of maple syrup is dependent on weather conditions. Ideally, nighttime temperatures of 20’s followed by a sunny day in the 40’s will cause the sap to flow in the sugar maple tree. If the temperatures remain constant, the sap ceases to flow. Therefore, the fluctuation is required.
Peak production at Forest Glen is about one hundred gallons of maple syrup in a season. This means four thousand two hundred gallons of sugar water was boiled down by burning seven cords of fuelwood! On poor years, production may only be sixty gallons. Forest Glen Preserve is the third largest producer of maple syrup in Illinois, only rivaled by Funks Grove near Bloomington and a private producer in Effingham. For more information on the making of maple syrup, the Maple Syrup Open House/Pancake Sausage Dinner, or tours, call 217-662-2142.