Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Make Some Maple Syrup Simply

(Don't forget to link up to my Marvelous Mess party......I'll be picking one project to feature on my sidebar for a week!! ) 
When made in small quantities—that is, quickly from the first run of sap and properly treated—it has a wild delicacy of flavor that no other sweet can match. What you smell in freshly cut maple-wood, or taste in the blossom of the tree, is in it. It is then, indeed, the distilled essence of the tree.”
John Burroughs, Signs and Seasons, 1886

It is that time of year in New England. Time to make some Maple Syrup!!
 Maple sugaring was discovered by the Eastern Woodland Indians. An Old Iroquois legend tells us the accidental discovery of the maple sugar making process:

A hunter returned to his dwelling and found an enticing sweetness in the air around the kettle in which his mate was boiling meat. The fluid in the kettle, he learned, was sap and had been collected beneath a broken maple limb. (Quoted from Maple Museum)

The Native Americans would begin by cutting the tree and collecting the sap in a hollowed out log, adding hot stones to it to boil the sap until it became crystallized sugar, which was easy for storing. Colonists would add to their techniques by tapping the trees with wooden or metal spouts, collecting them in buckets which they then boiled over a big pot. The success of sugaring was great, in fact it enabled the colonists to completely end their dependence on foreign sugar. 
A sap-run is the sweet good-by of winter. It is the fruit of the equal marriage of the sun and frost.”
John Burroughs, Signs and Seasons, 1886

I am an amateur at sugaring. I've never worked at a farm which produces a lot of syrup, at the most I have tapped 8 trees at a time. You won't believe what kind of results you can get from EIGHT trees!! This year I tapped two trees, with two taps each in them. Here's how you do it:

*Tap your trees when it gets below freezing at night and above freezing during the day in the early spring.
*Buy some Taps and something to catch the sap in. You can buy the fancy metal buckets, but they cost a lot and we just didn't want to shell out the cash. I found some food grade plastic pitchers for cheap and then used some metal bowls I had in the house. Drill a hole in the tree on the south facing side. I jerryrigged the containers to either sit beneath the tap or be attached to the tap by some wire:

 *Collect the sap every day (sometimes twice a day) and boil it down (preferably on an outside stove or in your house with the windows open) until it gets to the consistency of maple syrup. 

Don't go overboard unless you want maple candy or even worse:
Now that is some overcooked sap. Don't let it get to that point. :-)

The ratio of sap-syrup in high.....about 40 gallons of Sap are needed for 1 gallon of syrup. I am betting we get about 1 gallon from our taps this year. There is nothing like the taste of fresh maple syrup.....don't even think about picking up that Aunt Jemima. 

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Sumo Sweet Stuff

13 comments:

  1. Yum! We just went to a place in NH that makes syrup and learned about this wonderful process. I can't believe it is only for 6 weeks!

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  2. Hi,
    i found you from the follow along party and I am now following you! Please follow me too. Here is a link to my post with all my info. Thanks
    http://measuredbytheheart.blogspot.com/2011/03/its-follow-along-party.html?m=0

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  3. What!!?? You make your own maple syrup!!!??? Lucky! You realize that we Californians pay $20 an ounce for the real deal, right? Wow.

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  4. REALLY!!!
    How awesome is that!!
    And I thought getting eggs everyday from my girls was fun!
    I wish I could make syrup!!!!

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  5. OK, now that is just about THE COOLEST THING EVER!!! This Cali girl's gotta know, where are you? What state? I want to try that someday--def on my bucket list!

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  6. Oh Yum!
    Thanks for sharing
    as an east coast gal, this is one of those sweet little things I miss

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  7. Yum-that looks awesome! I'd love for you to link it up!

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  8. This is a very interesting post and history on maple syrup making. I went to a Sugarbush Weekend at Kings Landing Historical Settlement on the weekend where they were boiling sap as they would have in the 1800's. I hope you'll stop by and take a look at my 2 posts on this trip. Blessings, Pamela

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  9. Wow, this blows my mind! It only gets below freezing at night and above freezing during the day for about a week each winter here in Texas so this is a little out of the question, but maybe one day I will live somewhere with real seasons.

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  10. love love LOVE! I was just looking into this last week! I was trying to find a tree here out west, no such luck. I am so jealous you get to do this. I would SOOOO love to do this. I'm featuring this tonight on Topsy Turvy Tuesday's, thanks for linking up!

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  11. I didn't know you could do that, saweet .)


    Feel free to stop by and link up to my Make & Share 1st edition today and come back every friday thru saturday!

    ~ Christy

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  12. I'm impressed! And here I was all pleased with myself for making bread from scratch. Amateur :)

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gimme dat comment.