Sunday, March 22, 2015

Maple Sugaring, Part 2

Yesterday was Maple Sugaring Day! It was the day I'd been looking forward to since I first tapped our maple trees a couple of weeks ago. We had planned to boil last week, but Mother Nature had other plans... rain and snow do not make for good conditions to be outside boiling sap. Yesterday's weather was much nicer... mid-thirties, a tiny bit of light snow, and lots of bright sunshine. We started at 6:30 am, with about 7 gallons or so of sap that we had been storing in our freezer (sap spoils easily, so if you aren't going to boil right away, it needs to be kept in cold storage) and around 7 hours or so later, we had some syrup!

Getting the fire started in our makeshift evaporator. 

Our very primitive evaporator set up...
cinder blocks, metal rods, pans.

The Man of the House, keeping the fire burning.

Steamy Sap

As the sap started boiling down, we ladled the sap from the
first pan into the second pan...

...then we added more sap to the first pan.
(We set old tires around the evaporator as a "safety zone"
 because we had some little ones coming to visit and didn't
want any little hands getting too close to the hot fire.)

Watching sap boil

Eventually we were down to just one pan
of rich, amber almost-syrup

Filtering the almost-syrup into a small saucepan,
to remove debris and sediment.

Finishing the boil on the stove top

Checking the temperature... in order to be maple syrup,
 it needs to reach the temperature of exactly
7 degrees above boiling point... 219 degrees.

One last filtering to remove any remaining sediment


We did learn quite a bit from our experience, which will hopefully make for a more successful maple sugaring adventure next year. We did end up having to toss several gallons of sap that was bad, and we learned that tapping trees that are on a hill is tricky. Our syrup did have a slightly smoky taste, which I think is a result of our very primitive set up. We may try to rig up some kind of chimney for next year, to keep the smoke out of the syrup. Maple sugaring is definitely a lot of work for a little bit of syrup, but it was still really fun and satisfying. I now fully appreciate why real maple syrup is so expensive to buy!

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