Saturday, March 6, 2010

Let the maple syruping begin!

Thursday morning, our first adventure with maple syrup began. Before leaving for work, Mike went out to one of the maple groves and put ten taps into nine maple trees. Jonathan checked on the taps during the day. At first, it was slow. Some buckets remained empty for a few hours, but a couple trees had three inches of sap within a few hours. By mid-afternoon, three buckets were half full, so Jonathan emptied them. We assumed the buckets would be fine until Friday morning.

Friday started with eight trips across the creek to empty buckets. The buckets on the south end of the grove were completely full, and these are two gallon buckets.
The 10-gallon evaporator was full in no time.
We were filling additional pots on the stove, and we were looking for additional containers to store sap until the boiling sap had evaporated enough moisture for us to add more fresh sap to the pots. By the end of the day, we had collected almost 30 gallons of sap.

We boiled all day, and we still had sap sitting in pitchers and milk buckets, waiting to be added to the pots. And of course, we kept going across the creek, emptying more buckets so they wouldn't overflow. We had to stop boiling in the house when the sun went down, because we had to close windows, and the humidity started building up on windows quickly! By midnight, we decided we would be able to go to bed without worrying about the sap suddenly becoming syrup and being ruined before we got up in the morning. Just to be safe, Mike did check on it around 3:30, and the big evaporator was down about halfway.

By this morning, the sap was close enough to syrup that I had some on my homemade yogurt. It was so delicious! However, it wasn't quite "real" syrup yet, and if we were to bottle it at this stage, it would grow mold, because it still needed to be evaporated more, so we started adding more fresh sap to the pot. We're hoping by the end of today, we'll have boiled down the sap enough that we will be able to bottle our first three or four quarts of syrup.

14 comments:

Henwhisperer said...

You can make a wonderful beer from the maple sap. We did that one year using a Mr. Beer rig. Just an idea for you.

Genny said...

I can't imagine making my own maple syrup, but it does appeal to me very much. Once it's all boiled down, will it keep in closed containers without getting moldy, or will you have to process it somehow like canning vegetables?

Chef E said...

I would love to be an intern for you!

Seriously this blog is one of my favs with all your information and sharing here...love it!

Chef E said...

I would love to be an intern for you!

Seriously this blog is one of my favs with all your information and sharing here...love it!

Deborah @ Antiquity Oaks said...

Henwhisperer, I didn't know you could make beer from maple syrup, but then I don't like beer. I'll mention this to my husband! I'm hoping the grape vines produce enough this year to make wine.

Genny, once it's boiled down to the point where the sugar content is high enough, you put it in jars or bottles while still at least 180 degrees, and it keeps, just like canned jam that you make at home.

Chef E, aw, thanks! If you can ever get away from New Jersey for a couple weeks (or more), drop me an email and we'll see what we can work out.

Hrist said...

I don't like beer either, but I love my home made beer. It's totally worth a try if you have other people that will drink it if it turns out you still don't like it.

Michelle said...

So fun! Makes me nostalgic for my childhood! Sadly semi-arid Alberta doesn't have any sugar maples so I will live vicariously through your blog. :)

Deborah @ Antiquity Oaks said...

Hrist, you make a good point. I've never liked store-bought peas or celery, but I love homegrown. I loathe store-bought bread, and you know how much I love homemade. Might be the same with beer? hmm ...

Michelle, glad my post made you smile!

Henwhisperer said...

Deborah, the sap not the syrup. As I said we used Mr. Beer http://www.mrbeer.com/ and replaced the water with sap right from the tree. That was our first year up here in Vermont. Took the resulting beer back down to PA when we were finishing the move and poured it for our friends who helped us move. It knocked them out! Very strong alcohol content. :-)

Caroline in NH said...

We're doing this right now! Well, I am... the rest of the family doesn't help much. I tapped a measly two trees (those were the only two that I was absolutely sure were maples... I'll be marking more when the leaves come out, you can be sure!) and we should end up with about a gallon of syrup by the time it's done boiling. The sap has been running like crazy, and I'm looking forward to the syrup! :D

Alaska Shetland Shepherd said...

ROTFLMAO!!! Oh my Deborah, I just cracked up at all the work you got yourself into - been there done that and I remember it wasn't so funny when the same thing happened years ago. I can see you filling anything and everything with sap. You might want to get a recycled 55 gallon plastic drum - food grade - and put your sap in there in a cool dark place until you boil enough down. I think that's why they use the huge flat boilers in the sugar houses, they have allot of surface space so as to allow rapid evaporation compared to the one you bought that's more like a kettle?? Have fun and enjoy that syrup. We used to do it in Michigan many years ago!

Kara said...

Hi Deb,

We have 50 taps out! Don't forget it is a 40:1 ratio between sap and syrup. We use a 50 gallon barrel collect/store our sap in and my husband bought a pump that he can put in there that pumps it out into the "rig". I will be sure to do a complete post this week to show the whole process for us...but shearing is in a couple of hours so I have to get ready! This is our 4th year doing syrup here but we did it with our "mentors" for years before that. We "inherited" the equipment from them when they moved south.

thecrazysheeplady said...

Cool!

Deborah @ Antiquity Oaks said...

Yes, Alaska Shepherd, this evaporator is definitely like a kettle with a draw-off spout on the bottom. When we were buying equipment in late fall, I really like a 2' X 2' evaporator that was more shallow. I don't remember why we got this one. We've been looking online for a bigger, more professional one. We could easily triple the number of taps next year, but that would be insane without a proper evaporator. I got a 22-gallon tote made of #5 plastic (stuff they make yogurt containers with), and we're putting sap in that until we can boil it down. No sun today, so the sap is running much slower, and that's FINE with me!

We finished 5 quarts of syrup this morning!

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