Friday, May 23, 2014

Maple Syrup

Meet my lake neighbor, Mike. He is to be admired for his dedication and determination to his newest hobby; maple syrup making. It was quite the sight in April driving down the road past his property and his next door neighbors. The bright blue sap bags were scattered among the woods. It was quite a contrast to the barren surrounding landscape that had yet to emerge from its winter slumber. 
The following comments were written by Mike.   

Tapping the first tree. You need at least 10 diameter tap (called spiels) on south side of tree, above a major root if possible. For the sap to run the nights need to be in the 20's and days in the 40's are best. 

These bags hold as much sap as the buckets, about 4 gallons. They have some advantage in that they cost 50 cents with no clean up necessary post season and no storage issues.
The collected sap over 2 weeks came to 160 gallons. It is stored in food grade barrels over the course of about a 6 week season. I collected 460 gallons from about 85 trees. 
Before boiling the sap, it is filtered to remove bits of forest debris that invariably falls into the sap in transport. 
The Boil
This is a wood fired boiler that will reduce the sap at 13 gallons per hour. Over the course of the season I have gathered 460 gallons from about 85 trees. I made 3 separate boils with final finishing indoors on the stove. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup. The process of 160-180 gallons of sap means about a 16 hour a day consuming a stove cord of firewood. 
This 2014 season produced over 11 gallons of pure maple syrup. We used up all our jars. The traditional syrup bottles cost $1.00 each. Mason jars are commonly used. This is just a hobby for me, all bottles are given away to neighbors and friends.
Of course those who return jars or bottles have a greater chance of a refill in 2015.  

The following words are mine.
As you can see this is quite an impressive feat and it was Mike's first ever attempt to make maple syrup. Which leads me now to this recent gift which is even more coveted after seeing and hearing all the work it entails. You can be sure Mike will get his bottle back so we will have a greater chance for 2015 refill. Check out his fancy labels. 
The next posting I will share recipes that use pure maple syrup.   

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