Maple Syruping

We had a good snow the day we boiled the sap down for maple syrup.  The spring of 2012 was the first time I ever embarked on Maple Syruping.  What a lot of work, but what fun!  A good friend put me on to this starter kit from Maple Madness.  I got the Expansion Pack because all I wanted was the plastic tubing to be split into however many lengths you wanted (I did five equal pieces) and six plastic taps.  At Tractor Supply I got five 5-gallon buckets.  I also bought some cheesecloth and a candy thermometer there.

Here's what we did.  We followed directions more or less like these.  A few notes.  We tapped the trees in February when the sap was starting to run, i.e. when the daytime temperature was above freezing but the night-time temperature was below freezing.

We set out buckets on the ground and fed the tubing from the spout to the bucket through a little slit in the lid of the bucket.

The buckets had to be checked and emptied into the sap reservoir at varying rates.  Once a day or every other day is good.

We stored the sap in triple-plastic-bag-lined 32-gallon trash cans.  We tied the bags closed and covered the reservoirs with trashcan lids.  We stopped collecting sap when we had 40 gallons; also the temperature was no longer hitting below 32 degrees at night.  If the maples had started to bud or the sap to turn yellowish that would have been another sign to stop collecting sap.

We had gathered a LOT of brushwood to keep the fire going in the firepit.  I see why people have sugar shacks because we wasted so much heat without having a hood or roof over the fire.  We ran the fire continuously 10 AM Tuesday to 2 AM Wednesday.  It was a good time--people standing around, eating candy and adding to the fire.  At 2 AM we went to bed and I covered the pot with a lid to let it cool overnight.

The next day I brought the cooled reduced liquid to the kitchen.  We then finished it on the stove from 2 PM-8 PM at which time it hit around 217 degrees.  You really want to have someone experienced with you at this point because you need to know what syrup should look like.  It should not hit soft ball stage!  The syrup was delicious but it crystallized when it got cold.  To use it, I have to microwave it and add some hot water.  I think we should have taken the syrup off the heat sooner because it kept cooking perhaps past 219, which is probably what made it crystallize.  I'll be more careful next time.

We didn't can the syrup.  I just stuck it in the fridge.  I made pancakes for all the students the next day and we ate them with our OWN maple syrup.  How much did 40 gallons of sap make?  Less than 1/2 a gallon of syrup. 



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