Monday, April 11, 2011

Making Maple Syrup by a Novice: Boiling

We started late, only put in ten taps and had variable weather. The buds on a silver maple broke the day after we finished with temperatures on the rise. Still we collected a fair amount of sap.Friday was a beautiful day to start the fire in the sugar shack.

Getting the fire going.

We inherited a sugar shack with evaporator pans and the whole bit but I have friends who boil theirs outside in a big pot on what is essentially a camp fire, and others who collect small quantities from their urban tree to boil up on the stove top. This does create a lot of sticky steam so not recommended for large amounts. I wonder if anyone has done this on their BBQ/outside cooking station?

Me adding some fresh sap from that day.

I'm no expert. This was my first time but the trick seems to be that you want to boil and boil and boil and boil. Then boil some more until it takes on the quality of hot syrup. If left to cool a bit, it will be thickened and ultra sweet like maple syrup of course. Oh and skim off the scum as you go.

Getting closer. It was this beautiful amber colour forever before it thickened into a deep caramel. We finished boiling inside.

Our haul produced a little more than three litres of syrup which was more than we were expecting. Not that I'm complaining. The syrup was left to cool then strained to remove the sugar sand* that accumulates during the boiling process. Then they were bottled for storage in the fridge. You can also can syrup which is what we would do if we had a larger quantity. Once again: the finished product.

Two litres of the good stuff.

* Apparently these are 'minerals and nutrients' which are filtered out to prevent the syrup from looking cloudy and because they taste like sand. According to one source, this is mostly calcium which seems like something you might want to keep but according to another, sugar sand can concentrate lead so you would want to get rid of this. I would like to look into this further but I have far too much bed digging and planting to do today. Woohoo!


ChrissieYoung1987 said...

This is wonderful! For a novice attempt you guys have awesome equipment.

It brings me back to when I was growing up in Embrun and my siblings and I would be runing around collecting the buckets of sap. We would boil it in large pots on a wood stove!

Can't wait to see more updates! Good job guys!

Fundip said...

LOVE! I am so jealous. Congrats on your first spring :)

Anonymous said...

Good looking stuff there. I am also truly jealous!

As for your Garden Update today. I thought swaling was a contentious issue. Save the Swales!

I planted my parsnips a few days ago. We will see how they go. This is my first year for them.

Question: Do you cover them with boards or burlap like some do for carrots? Do you cover your carrots for better germination?

Word:SUROPAY - How appropriate! You certainly have a suropay little harvest there!

Ottawa Gardener said...

We only swale by hand in small, ecologically favourable amounts.

I never covered small seeds with germination boards in the spring at my old place but the ground here is sandier so we'll see how the rain favours us. I do use whatever's at hand in the summer sometimes.

SUROPAY: I swear their spying on me.

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing your sap to syrup experience!

Daphne Gould said...

I would love to make my own maple syrup. We have some friends that live in Vermont and have a sugar house. The funny thing is that the husband and wife both have their own trees they tap. It all goes to the same house (with tubes), but they care for their own trees.

Terri & Angela said...

And THIS is why I would love to move up north. Such beautiful syrup. Now that's GOT to be satisfying, to drum up something like that all on your own. Well done!

~ Angela

Tracy said...

Your woods look lovely and syrup too what a bonus.None of that here.

Leigh said...

Wow, what a nice sugarbush - and equipment to go with it! You guys found a really great place! We don't have enough maples to tap but plenty of our neighbors make syrup. When I was a teenager friends and I would go off to a sugar camp deep in the woods and hang out all weekend and gather and boil sap... many fond memories

Andrea said...

Maple Syrup is my favourite (in donuts and pancakes), I miss Canada a lot for that!
It looks delicious, great job!
Thanks for posting this!