- Associated Press - Monday, January 5, 2015

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) - Most people don’t look forward to the cold weather coming in. In fact, some dread it, but others crave the upcoming chilly weather so they can create a sugary delight.

That’s when maple trees start producing their sugary sap.

“The best way to spot a maple tree is seeing buckets and taps,” said Dennis Pepper, a Wesselman Woods volunteer. “It’s in everybody’s blood (to want to make maple syrup).”

Pepper began making his own maple syrup about five years ago.

He spoke to about eight people Saturday at the nature center to explain how to tap maple trees to get the sap and how to make it into the deliciousness that people pour on their pancakes.

If people want to make syrup this year, they would have to find a mature tree with about 10 inches in diameter to tap into to. A maple tree can take 10 to 40 years to mature enough.

Debi Roby and her daughter came to the discussion because they wanted to find some nature hobbies. The Evansville women found possible access in Posey County and will try to tap into trees out there.

She enjoys the fresh syrup “strictly for the taste,” she said.

Peppers agreed the taste is one of the good things about making his own syrup, but he also likes knowing where his food comes from.

“It’s neat to know that this batch is from that tree,” he told the Evansville Courier & Press (http://bit.ly/17d8KL4 ).

While it’s fun to make syrup yourself, it’s not always easy.

Pepper called it intensive work and often compared taking care of the trees like you would a human body.

All the objects that drill or go into the tree need to be sterilized.

“You wouldn’t want to donate blood without clean equipment,” he said.

When people first started tapping into trees, it was thought the bigger the hole in the tree, the more sap would be acquired. But Peppers said the spile has gotten smaller over time and creates a smaller “wound” so the tree can heal faster.

All the hard work is worth it though, Pepper said.

“It’s more nature and organic,” he said.

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Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, http://www.courierpress.com

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