Thursday, April 14, 2016

It's That Time Again

After our neighbor Mike retired in 2014 he made his long time dream a reality, producing maple syrup. I can tell you first hand once you've had Mike's 100% maple syrup you'll never want to go back to a grocery store brand again. It's quite a labor intensive operation and one jar really is liquid gold.  
You need to know... 
The general rule of thumb is that it takes 40 parts maple sap to produce 1 part maple syrup. This translates into 40 gallons of sap to produce 1 gallon or syrup (or 10 gallons of sap for one quart of syrup). This estimate is dependent on the sugar content of your sap.
It's no wonder when Mike gifted us with a quart jar my husband was so happy. 
170 bright blue sap bags are quite a March sight scattered throughout the woods. Such a contrast to the barren surrounding landscape that has yet to emerge from its winter slumber. 
 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 2016 maple syrup season kicked off on March 5 with about 170 Maple trees producing sap. The first boil of the season was on March 12. Last year the season started about April 1. 

One chilly day we were able to witness this labor intensive process from start to finish, except for tapping the trees. Oh my, it certainly takes dedication and determination to spend some 10-16 hours a day, no matter the weather, working to keep the boiler going.
To tap the first tree you need at least a 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 the best. 
There are usually three cycles of sap run but due to weather conditions this year there were four. After the first "cycle" started it appeared the weather would remain warm. However, that was not the case this year where there was a stretch of 10 days where the temperature was below freezing at night and the bags were frozen with syrup. With a warm up the sap began to run again. There was heavy production.

In between the "cycles" the weather remained cold which did not cause the trees to bud. The time to quit collecting sap is when it appears the trees are about to bud. Normally the ground cover begins to bud first and it's a signal t
he trees will bud a week or so later.
Before boiling the sap, it is filtered to remove bits of forest debris that invariably falls into the sap in transport.
A wood fired boiler will reduce the sap at 13 gallons per hour. Many 10- 16 hours a day were required to keep the boiler going, consuming five cords of firewood.  
Mike's wife Cindy assisted in the production behind the scenes in the kitchen. Syrup was boiled on the stove until it reached 219 degrees, which takes at least 30 minutes.  
Jars were sterilized and the syrup was poured in. Outside labels were then attached. 
And so the the clean-up begins. And not even pictured are the 170 sap bags to clean!  
The 2014 season produced over 11 gallons of pure maple syrup (80 trees) and fast forward to 2016 to date 2,000 gallons of sap were boiled that has produced 50 gallons of maple syrup.
It was an exceptionally good year for Mike. A true labor of love. 

Cook's notes: Ever Ready posting some recipes that feature pure maple syrup.
Thursday Asian Cuisine Day

Asian Roasted Carrots and Broccoli

Cook's notes: Super simple, quick, and easy, packed with flavor and ready to roast in just 5 minutes. Recipe from adated and serves 4.
  • 3 TB. reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 TB. brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Sriracha, or more, to taste
  • 16 oz. baby peeled carrots or 3 cups
  • 1 T. olive oil or Lemon Olive Oil
  • 1 TB. maple syrup
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 16 oz. broccoli florets or about 3 cups
  • 2 tsp. sesame seeds
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  • In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, rice vinegar and Sriracha; set aside.
  • Place carrots in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and syrup. Arrange minced garlic around the carrots.
  • Place into oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until tender. Stir in broccoli during the last 7-10 minutes of cooking time.
  • Stir in soy sauce mixture and gently toss carrots and broccoli to combine.
  • Serve immediately, garnish with sesame seeds, if desired.

1 comment:

  1. I, too, have watched and documented the process of gathering and cooking down maple syrup. I am always impressed by how labor intensive this is. It is truly a labor of love.