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  • Spring syrup surprise

    In the Jan. 26 issue of the Catholic Herald, we followed Mark Moran’s environmental science class at Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Dumfries as they prepared for sap collecting season, a three-year tradition.


    With the record-breaking collection of 80 gallons in 2016, the class eagerly anticipated a repeat success this year. Unfortunately, February’s unseasonably warm weather put a damper on their sweet dreams. The temperatures did not drop below freezing consistently at night for the trees to go dormant.


    When the class started collecting around Valentine’s Day they managed to gather only 1.2 gallons of sap, which would yield only 1.5 tablespoons of syrup.


    Virginia winter had one last card to play. A week of chilling cold and snow during the second week of March caused the school’s red maples to go dormant. Over the weekend the school’s trees produced 20 gallons of sap, which Chef Kelly will boil down to make one-third of a gallon of syrup.


    While this is a pleasant surprise, there is a catch.


    According to Moran, the syrup has a bit of a strange taste.


    “This is the first time we have ever had that. I think it might be due to the fact that the buds are out on the trees,” he said, “Maybe the trees are releasing something due to the budding process.”


    It just goes to show you can never completely predict the outcome of creation.


    © Arlington Catholic Herald 2020

    @Ashleigh Kassock