We were just a tad late getting the trees tapped last year, so I watched the weather closely this year in order to take advantage of the sap season as long as possible. Sap begins to flow when the daytime temperatures are above freezing, but the night temperatures are below.
Our first taps went into the trees on March 2nd and we found that the sap was already flowing, although not very fast. The weather up to that point had been unseasonably cold, delaying its start.
In the four weeks that followed, we collected a total of 65 gallons of sap, from the same three trees we tapped last year, plus two more at the back of the property that were smaller, but we didn't get more than a couple of gallons total from those.
The average ratio of sap to syrup is generally 37:1 for sugar maples and 40:1 for other types. We have mostly silver maples here and no sugar maples (maybe one, but it's too small to tap). We had two exceptionally good collecting days during all that time, with nine gallons being collected once and eleven gallons just a week ago before it all came to a halt.
This year we boiled the sap down outside since we'd just redone our kitchen and didn't want that sticky steam getting all over everything. Thanks to a suggestion from Susy Morris (of Chiot's Run, and a former fellow Buckeye now living in Maine), we purchased an induction burner from Amazon, which made the whole process incredibly easy. That doesn't mean it went off without a hitch, however. One day, I got busy and forgot to set the timer as a reminder to check it and I burned a batch. Four gallons of sap, ruined. (Boo.)
|You need a stainless steel pan that a magnet will stick to the bottom in order for|
it to work on an induction burner. I didn't really use the candy thermometer you
see here. It was just easier to eyeball it to determine when the syrup was done.
Taking into account the burned sap and one gallon that went bad before it got processed (it poured out of the milk jug in gelled globs), from 60 gallons of sap, we ended up with a little more than 1¾ gallons of syrup, making our ratio somewhere close to 32:1. Not bad!
|Almost all the sap processed darker this year than last. I boil it until it's the right|
consistency and the darker it is, the stronger the maple flavor.