The smell of maple was in the air as Sunrise Metal Shop of Topeka, IN hosted the annual product demonstration and local school fundraiser on Saturday, March 11. The event was started six years ago and attracts between 600-800 people for food, education, and fun.
John Kuhns, who owns the business with his son Devon and son-in-law Lee, shared that the event began as an educational experience concerning maple syrup and the whole process of converting tree sap into the sweet syrup. The fundraisers have evolved through the years and has become a moneymaker for the Clear Springs school.
“It is so important to get back to nature and educate people,” Kuhns said. “Maple syrup is the first crop of the year and we manufacture evaporators so the education part worked out.” Sunrise specializes in custom stainless steel items including maple syrup equipment and high end BBQ grills as well as various maple products. The grills were being used to cook up the sausage patties served with pancakes, scrambled eggs, sweet rolls, and juice or coffee.
The evaporator was very popular as Devon and Lee operated it and answered the numerous questions about the process. The machine has technology included that released syrup at the 219.6 degree point. The unit is completely enclosed and has some environmentally friendly qualities. It is a wood burning operation with a diesel generator. One interesting feature is the preheating of the syrup, adding 75% to the boiling rate and increasing the efficiency. It takes 43 gallons of sap to create one gallon of maple syrup.
The boiling rates for each of the sweets continues to climb with 233 degrees forming maple creams or spreads, the popular maple leaf candies need to reach 244 degrees, and granulated maple sugar will go to 253 degrees. The granulated sugar was used to make maple cotton candy, an unusual treat and fundraiser for the school.
People from as close as next door and as far as Burr Oak, MI came to support the school, enjoy a hearty breakfast and learn more about the maple syrup process.