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Monday, March 8, 2010

Maple Surple Time

Surple as a friend of mine calls it... Other people call it... Maple Syrup.  Because I am home this time of year, I can make some maple syrup. I have a very small operation.  I have two maple trees that I tap, both about 30 feet from my fire pit that I cook on and bake pots in.  The trees were planted by my gampa, so I think they must be about 100 years old now.  I used to tap more, but they are farther to carry the sap to my wood pit, and I really dont have time or inclination to make more sryup than I need.  I put in 4 taps, ugly plastic milk jugs work well, tap spouts are sumac branches. Stag Horn Sumac is pithy inside and it is easy to hollow out 4 inch spouts. I drill the hole into the tree with my brace and bit and tap in the spout. I have cut a hole in the top side of the milk jug (cap back on) and attached it just above the spout with a cord and nail. The hole in the tree will heal up by summer. I feel like I am stealing the trees life blood, but no more so than if a limb had broken off. There are drips from small branches overhead that had broken off in the recent wind, sap dripping onto snow.

I get about 5 gallons of sap a day, just enough to fill my white bucket and put on the pit for my days production. It takes about 50 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. I use a turkey pan. big flat bottom with more surface for steam to rise.  I have to stoke the fire every half hour or so. The past few days in CT have been above 50, so going out every half hour is very pleasant. At the end of the day, around 8 o'clock after 10 hours of boiling the 5 gallons, I am down to about a gallon of dark yellow liquid. This I bring in the house and finish off on the stove. I get 2 cups of finished syrup from my days work. I put the hot syrup into a pint canning jar and seal it in a hot water bath. I found that using a empty olive oil can saves a lot of time and enery than using a canning pan to seal only 1 pint jar at a time. 10 minutes later, I have another jar to store away for french toast, waffles and maple brandy!

Sap Coffee. Was it Roger that mentioned sap coffee? Well, it is on google! I tried it yesterday. Put sap instead of water into your coffee maker and you get lightly sweetened coffee. Its also good as an iced coffee. With our 50 degree temps, I can sit in the sun on my back deck that used to be snow covered and sip iced maple coffee  with my feet up while I watch the sap boil in my fire pit. Talk about a life of luxury!

Upcoming event:

March 14 - Maple Harvest Day - 11:00 am-3:00 pm... Storrowton Village, Big E fairgrounds, Springfield MA
This event focuses on the history and folklore of maple sugar making in New England. The Village will offer demonstrations of tree tapping, sumac spile making and sap boiling in the front yard of the Gilbert Homestead; fireplace cooking, basket weaving and wool spinning demonstrations inside. Storrowton Tavern will offer a special maple-themed menu featuring items unique to this special day. Admission is free.

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