This is Pretty Sappy

Buckets on trees collecting sap.  VERY high-tech.

Buckets on trees collecting sap. VERY high-tech.

This is our third year of boiling maple sap for syrup.

The first year, we scored about 25 gallons of sap from a friend who just couldn’t bear to boil another drop.  We drove to her place, collected the buckets, and took them home to boil.

This was the ideal Intro to Maple Syrup Making.  We dragged the portable burner and the tank of propane out to the driveway and set the sap to boil.  As the volume in the pot lowered, we’d add another bucketful.  We did this over and over (and over and over) until we’d boiled those 25 gallons down to slightly more than two quarts of syrup.

That’s right.

The ratio of sap to syrup is a frustratingly small 40:1, meaning it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.

And, it takes FOREVER.

Starting last year, we tapped our own trees and increased our yield significantly.  Even only tapping eight trees, we still managed to collect something like 50 gallons of sap (a little more than a gallon of syrup).

Indoor boiling--a carefully thought-out decision.

Indoor boiling–a carefully thought-out decision.

Because we forgot to fill the propane tanks and because the portable burner was buried under tons of stuff in the garage and because we are disorganized and kind of lazy, we “decided” to try boiling indoors.

It worked out fine, albeit crazy-slow; and that’s how we’re doing it again this year.

There are only two real downsides to indoor boiling–

One is that it is sloooooooooow going.  One five-gallon pot can take three or four hours to boil down, maybe longer.  Then, consider the infusions of sap that are added along the way, and you’ve got yourself a good two- or three-day investment into syrup making.

These guys would be stoked about the atmosphere in my kitchen right now.

These guys would be stoked about the atmosphere in my kitchen right now.

Unlike boiling sap over a large open flame or, better yet, in a proper evaporator, the indoor process just doesn’t generate the same quality of heat and doesn’t cover nearly the surface area.

It is, however, what we have available.

Two is that your home becomes the sap version of a Russian bathhouse, only without the fat men with back hair wearing nothing but waist towels.

My pores are so sweetly clogged

My pores are so sweetly clogged

And even the steam room effect is really not so bad now that the days are just warm enough to crack open the windows. After several months of dry winter air, a little moisture is pretty welcome.

So, we will continue to collect sap until the trees tell us they are done for the year and we will continue to boil the sap until it has all become syrup.

So worth it.  Thanks, trees.

So worth it. Thanks, trees.

Like honey from the bees, sweet syrup from the trees is just one more gift from this little farm.

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About applewoodfarm

Restaurateur, farmer, bartender, beekeeper, friend, wife, mother, dog lover, cat tolerater, chicken hypnotizer, blogger, and sometime yogi
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7 Responses to This is Pretty Sappy

  1. Rvncj@aol.com says:

    All that work and effort and you have no idea how happy I am for you! Would like nothing better than to BE you!!! Claudette

  2. avwalters says:

    It’s tempting. I was concerned that, in addition to the moisture, the boiling down would make the house sticky. (In which case, it’s an outside chore!) Since you’ve done it, sticky?

    • Totally not sticky. At all. Steamy? Hell yes. Moisture on the walls and windows like crazy, but the moisture is 100% from the water that evaporates leaving the sap/syrup behind. Nothing sticky leaves the pot. Go for it!

  3. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Well, your pores ought to be happy now, at least; ) but sure hope everything doesn’t wind up sticky after the moisture’s gone… I know we only did one honey extraction in the kitchen (before Dad built the Honey House out back; )
    “Spring Cleaning” takes on a whole new meaning? Lol

    • Fortunately, we have last year as a guide and we managed to come out of it without stickiness! Totally not sticky. At all. Steamy? Hell yes. Moisture on the walls and windows like crazy, but the moisture is 100% from the water that evaporates leaving the sap/syrup behind. Nothing sticky leaves the pot.

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