Sunday, April 7, 2019

Maple Sugar Season

tapping the maples connecting the hose to the tap boiling the sap the one in front got too low (which is why it is so dark) chicken helper our rigged set up watching the boiling first round of filtering testing some 2nd filter licking the measuring cup clean syrup This little homestead of ours made another dream of mine (and my family) come true - harvesting our own maple syrup. Last fall the children and I identified 3 large sugar maple trees on our property (and apparently we have a lot more! I'll share more on that later on). I told my mom about them and then for Christmas she got us this tree tapping kit. About mid-March we tapped our trees. We decided to do a trial run. We didn't have all the supplies (like buckets and boiling pans) so we thought it best to start small and only collect 10 gallons of sap. That took us about one week. Once we had the full ten gallons we made a make-shift set up to boil it outside. We spent the whole day outside watching the sap boil and adding more as it got low. You can see in the photos that one of the pans got too low (the dark one) and the sap started turning into syrup too soon - we are still learning. Once it was all down to about 1/4 of what we started with, we filtered it and in I brought it inside to finish the process. I watched numerous videos on how to tell when the sap has turned into syrup, each one saying it is pretty impossible and you need a special thermometer. Even so, our syrup boiled a bit too longer and was slightly on the sugar side. We weren't discouraged though. It was our first try and besides, it tasted better than any syrup we had ever had. We ended up with a pint of syrup after all was said and done and we enjoyed it that night over waffles and pancakes. I don't think we'll ever forget that experience and are already making plans for a real sugar season next winter - hopefully with gallons upon gallons of syrup to put away for the following year.

p.s. - When we were tapping our trees an older neighbor drove by our house and noticed our tapped sugar maple trees. He turned his truck around and knocked on our door. You should have seen the smile on his face when I answered. He was blown away that we were tapping our trees. It is rather unheard of out here for younger families to be homesteading or really doing anything besides watching tv and playing video games. He proceeded to show us all the other sugar maples we could tap on our property (and oh my do we have a lot!) followed by all the tips he could think of. He has lived in this area since the 1980s and used to tap his trees all the time. He shared stories about the sugar shack he found on his property and how all the boys on our street used to tap their maples and bring the sap to the sugar shack to be boiled into syrup to bring home to their mothers. I wish that little shack still stood. Can you imagine what a community they must have had here? How they loved thy neighbor? I would love to bring that back.
After he shared all of his wisdom and stories, he left he telling us he would go searching for any maple tapping supplies he had left in his barn and bring them down.He has since given them to us and we can't wait to use them next year. They are treasures to us, for sure!

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