Tuesday, February 2, 2016

2016 Maple Syrup, Week 1

catching drops of sap straight from the tree

I've been doing some reading lately and realized that it's not a bad thing to tap the trees earlier rather than later. Last year we waited until March, but with the weather in the optimal range of 40's during the day and below freezing at night, we headed out with our tapping supplies a couple days after the big snowstorm.

Sunshine and River waiting for the first drops of sap to roll down the spile
last year's spile hole is at the very top of the picture

Sunshine is holding the sap bag, 
waiting for the sap to start dripping and clear out the sawdust before hanging the bag on the spile

the last bag hanging from the spile

I had planned on identifying other trees to tap (birch, etc), but never quite managed it this past fall, so we're sticking with the same six bags and four maples that we tapped last year. I think I'll try identifying trees in the spring/summer, rather than waiting until autumn and then running out of time before the leaves all fall.

if you look closely you can see a blurry drop of sap between Sunshine's arm and River's tongue

We tapped the trees late Tuesday afternoon. Between then and Sunday night we collected 79 cups of sap, which is just under 5 gallons. The first 21 cups ended up as burnt maple taffy when I got distracted with Pinewood Derby preparations. It had a burned taste, but it was still edible, though not something you'd want to give as a gift or share with your neighbors :)

it was very thick and sticky and had to be pried off the plate with a butter knife

The remaining 58 cups of sap boiled down to about half a cup of maple syrup. It thickened as it cooled, so I need to remember not to cook it quite so long next time. Our propane delivery was delayed because of the backlog caused by the storm, so I used the Instant Pot to boil down all that sap. Not the quickest and most efficient method, but it worked. And our propane was delivered right when the syrup was almost ready, so our next batch will be done on the stove.

about half a cup of maple syrup

Now it's pancake time!

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