Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Maple syrup season winding down

We put syrup in canning jars for ourselves,
but we put it in cute little jugs for gifts to relatives.
For the past four weeks, our house has been in a bit of disarray. On days when the temperatures get above freezing, the stove has been covered with pots of boiling maple sap. There is a sheet hanging in the doorway between the kitchen and dining room that reminds me daily that we should have put a pocket door in there when we built the house. Although the window is usually wide open, and the door is cracked in the kitchen, it is usually the hottest room in the house -- and the most humid -- hence the sheet in the doorway. I didn't even try making maple syrup until a year ago because I had heard that it would steam up your house and could even cause wallpaper to come unglued and fall down. We haven't lost any wallpaper, but if I ever decide I want to get rid of any, I know how to do it now. It is not an exaggeration to say that it creates a lot of humidity. It boils down from about 35 to 45 quarts of sap to a single quart of syrup. Although some books say it takes less sap, this is how much sap we have to boil down to get a quart of syrup. So, for every quart of syrup we make, we put nine or ten gallons of water into the air.

Last year, the sap didn't start to run until early March. This year, it started in mid-February, only about a week after the biggest blizzard in decades. The sap runs when the temperatures start to go above freezing during the day, while still dipping below freezing overnight. Sap season has lasted about twice as long as last year, and we have quite a bit more syrup -- ten and a half quarts last year, and more than four gallons this year. The sap is barely dripping today, and based on the forecast, I think our maple syrup days are gone until 2012.

It's a bittersweet good-bye though. Of course, I would love to get more maple syrup, but at the same time, it will be nice to have full use of the kitchen again. And I won't miss that sheet in the doorway. The seasonality of maple sugaring is what makes it tolerable. I wouldn't want to do this every day, but for a few weeks every spring, a bit of inconvenience seems a small price to pay for the most delicious sweetener on the homestead.



Do you have a shed or a corner of your garage or someplace where you could set up a sugar shack and do your boiling outside of your home, like the oldtimers used to do?

Brenda said...

Here in SW Michigan things are also winding down. I've gotten 3 gallons of syrup so far with 24 taps. I boil the majority of the sap off with 2 propane fired turkey fryers on our back porch, finishing the syrup inside on the kitchen stove. Even that puts an excessive amount of moisture in the air. This is just our 2nd year of making syrup and as sweet as the product is...I'm ready to move on to the next project!

Deborah @ Antiquity Oaks said...

You know, Coneflower, I keep telling my husband I want a sugar shack! We do quite a bit of boiling on the back deck with the propane turkey fryer that Brenda mentioned in the next comment, but we preheat everything on the stove before pouring it in there because you don't want to stop the boil by adding cold sap. And we couldn't use that thing on the deck for a couple weeks because we boiled it down to charcoal, and it took two weeks of off-and-on scrubbing to get it cleaned up again. It had not clicked until just now, but that's why we had so much boiling in the house this year.

Restless Prairie Farm said...

I wish we could do maple trees here! I'd gladly rid my home of wall paper..lol.:o)

Sharon said...

I'm glad to hear from someone who boils their's in the kitchen as, like you, we have heard many stories of losing wallpaper or having syrup dripping from your ceilings!
We are going to tap some of our trees next year. We will mark them this fall so we know which look like likely candidates.


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