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Published: Monday, 3/18/2013

Importance of Ohio, maple sugaring on tap at Olander

NATALIE TRUSSO CAFARELLO
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Johanna Neugesbauer, of Sylvania, stirs a vat of boiling Maple sap as volunteer Debbie Haubert, right, explains the refining process to Neugesbauer and her family. Johanna Neugesbauer, of Sylvania, stirs a vat of boiling Maple sap as volunteer Debbie Haubert, right, explains the refining process to Neugesbauer and her family.
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At the 5th annual Maple Sugaring Fest Saturday at Olander Park in Sylvania, about 100 festival goers received a sweet rendition of the importance of maple surgaring in Ohio history.

“Ohio was a major producer of maple sugar until it decided to cut their trees down and replace it with corn instead,” said Erika Buri, Olander Park’s conservation manager.

During the 1800s, Ohio was a significant producer of maple sugar and maple syrup products. Because of its maple trees and the weather patterns, this region is a prime area for maple sugar production, Ms. Buri said.

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The methods used to obtain sugar from maple sap so that it could used to sweeten food before cane sugar was accessible to the country.

“Ohio is really credited with maple sugaring innovation in the 1880s,” Ms. Buri said.

Visitors were taken through Olander Park's tree groves to step back in time when maple sugar was a sweetener used by Indians and European settlers.

“Soldiers used maple sugar because it was transportable and could be boiled down to a cake,” she explained.

The visitors stopped at different stations that explained the process of extracting maple sap and its historical importance. One demonstration explained how maple sugar was important to Native American culture. Indian tribes in the region relied a tree’s sap for a sweet source, and used tomahawks to pierce beneath the tree's bark.

Settlers would often spend their days at a sugar shack waiting for the watery substance to be boiled down to sugar.

The old-fashioned way of tapping a tree with a spill, or tree faucet, and catching its liquid in bucket was part of a long and tedious process.

Some sugar shacks were located miles away from home. Considering that 40 gallons of sap equals one gallon of syrup, some families would camp at the sugar shack for days, waiting for their sugar, Ms. Buri said. Those factors influenced the diminishing use of maple sugar and the switch to cane sugar.

At today's event, Ms. Buri and actors dressed in historical costume and explained the new methods of extracting maple sap.

Afterward, visitors came to Olander's Nederhouser Community Hall, which became a maple market for the day, selling locally made maple sugar and maple syrup.

Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356 or ntrusso@theblade.com



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