Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Apparently We Weren't Done With Our Maple Trees

I thought we were done collecting sap from our maples, but when Sunshine and I went around and took down the bags and spiles, two of the bags had a good amount of sap in them. In fact, we collected almost 3 quarts of sap.

I wasn't sure if it would be usable since I read somewhere that sap from budded trees smells terrible when boiled down. I'm not sure if our trees have budded out, but they've got to be close. We decided to start boiling the sap and see what happened. It didn't smell bad, so we continued boiling it down for candy. I wanted to try a molded candy this time, so I only cooked it to 215* and then cooled to under 100*.

Cooking to 215* didn't allow the syrup to thicken, so I brought it back up to 225* and then cooled to less than 100*. It still wasn't thick enough, so I put it back on the stove. I was aiming for 230*, but got distracted watching Sunshine do something and wasn't watching the thermometer. Next thing we knew, the small amount of sap in the pot had scorched and burned. Oops.

3 quarts of sap boils down to only about 1/4 cup or so of syrup, so it didn't take long to get the temperature up, and I should have been watching it like a hawk. Lesson learned.

Below is all that survived- kind of a maple taffy, but with very strong scorched undertones. It would have been quite edible if it hadn't burned. We'll try again next year.

I mentioned last time that our two syrup batches were different. After making blueberry pancakes (gluten free of course!) and pouring both syrups over them, I think the lighter, thinner first batch should have been cooked down more. Compared to the second batch it was watery, not thick and syrupy. Another lesson learned.

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