Monday, March 12, 2012

Old Fashined Maple Kettle Syrup

Zach and I had a wonderful weekend. We spent the majority of Sunday outdoors in the welcomed spring sunshine, enjoying the sounds of Sandhill Cranes, Canada Geese and other migratory birds as they find their way back from the long trip south to their thawing northern homes.

If you've been following my Facebook updates, Zach and I have collected 41 gallons of Sugar Maple sap, with 3 more gallons on the tree right now, almost ready for me to empty them. Our goal was 40 gallons, and then we'd start boiling. 40, because maple syrup boils down at approximately a 40 to 1 ratio. So 40 gallons of sap would give us 1 gallon of syrup.

This year we tapped 3 trees. One is a gigantic old maple which could support 2 to 4 taps. We drilled the holes under a main branch, or a large root and gently tapped the spiles into the hole, a quick taste test, as the cool liquid starting dripping immediately, revealed a subtle woodsy sweetness.

We used recycled water jugs to collect this year. It worked great because it helped us to keep count as to how many gallons we have, and it made for a close fit around the spile so bugs and debris had less of a chance of finding its way into our sap.

Last year we used the rocks around our bon fire pit to act as a support system for our pots of boiling sap. This year we had a stack of cinder blocks left in our barn, that we constructed into a make-shift chimney/outdoor grill. We created a rectangle with the brick two layers high. Then Zach put strips of flat steel across the span of the bricks to act like the grates on a grill. We continued the bricks up another layer and a half. This helped the ash and fire to move upward, and kept the wind from blowing things into the sap. We started our fire, placed our pans on top and poured in the sap.

The afternoon was spent splitting wood, kindling the fire and topping off the pans of sap whenever they reduced down.

We sipped homemade strawberry lemonade (thanks Stacey!) and watched the chickens scratch around the yard.

Oliver spent the day exploring, digging in the mud, carrying around sticks
and got his first good look at the goats.

Syrup made in this manner, is called Kettle Syrup. It tends to be a darker golden color because of the carmelization that takes place over the uneven flame, as opposed to a temperature controlled evaporator. It also lends an interesting smoky note, as the bits of ash and smoke marinate and color the sweet syrup giving it a wild complex flavor.

On Sunday we reduced 20 gallons to about 2 gallons. We will then finish it on the stove, strain it and bottle it. (Future blog to come)

We thanked the beautiful trees that blessed us with this day of simple, enjoyable work. The maple that fell last Autumn that we used as fire woods. And the live maples that awoke this Spring, and so generously shared their sweet life blood.

It was a beautiful day.

Be sure to check out some of our other Maple Syruping Posts!
and our Facebook Page for more Maple Syrup fun!


Donna said...

Looks like a lot of fun! Maple syrup is one of my favorite things-on pancakes, in beans,and a little mixed into a glass of milk for maple milk. Yummy! Donna

Anonymous said...

Hi! Just happened upon your blog. We use milk and apple jugs with a hole drilled in it too. It works great. We did not get any bugs at all! We just wrap the tap and top of jug with a small bit of foil. Well one very detemined moth got through yesterday!

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