Tuesday, April 7, 2015

65 Gallons of Sap on the Wall...

The second year of maple syrup making is now completed. We were first-timers last year and we beat ourselves on the noggins for not doing it before then. Eating real maple syrup made from the sap of your own trees is like a taste of heavenly nectar.

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.

The sap stops flowing when the trees are finally all thawed out from winter and that is signaled by not only a reduction in sap flow, but a change in its color, from clear to light yellow. At the same time, the buds are beginning to break open on the trees and it's all over but the processing.

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.


Lisa at Greenbow said...

What a lovely sight. I bet it tastes great too.

Marylou said...

Ummm! I lived next door to a "Sugar House" growing up and the neighbor tapped our maples and gave us some syrup! Good memories.

Michael said...

That looks so good! The old-fashioned do-it-yourself process of turning sap into syrup always reminds me of Little House in the Big Woods. :o)

Beth said...

What an interesting post, Kylee! I enjoyed reading about your home-made maple syrup. I'll bet it's delicious.

Beth @ PlantPostings said...

Yum! Good for you! We had six large Silver Maples at our old property, and I should have collected sap then. Now we have a couple of Maples, but mostly Oaks. Enjoy your syrup--that's very impressive!

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