Maple Syrup Season was Short & Sweet

Hubby and I had a quick window of time to collect our sap this year and it turned out perfect!  We decided to make the syrup by ourselves this year because of the unpredictable spring weather.  We also decided that about half a batch would suffice so we only filled the sap tank with 135 gallons of clear maple sap!

Brick firepit before pan is placed.

The cleaned pan before and after.

Pit of ashes after all is completed and the cleanup is done.

These are the scoops we use to move sap from one section of the pan to another.

This is the paddles we use to scrape the foam off the cooking sap!! They’re handmade by one of Eddie’s ancestors but we’re not sure which one.

Pancakes and french toast will be on the breakfast menu for a while!!

135 gallons of sap yielded 3 1/2 gallons of delicious maple syrup.

When the sap goes in the pans it’s clear as water and the longer it cooks the more golden it becomes.

This is a gallon bucket we use to dip the paddles in after dipping the foam from the sap.

This is the foam that builds up while the sap is boiling. We have two paddles on hand to dip it off the hot sap. If left on it will leave a crusty top on the sap and we don’t like that.

Of course we have entertainment as hubby hooks up a jambox on the rockwall above the cellar!!

It was an absolutely gorgous day and a spectacular blue sky stayed with us the entire day.

Early morning at the sugar house!

The only equipment in the sugar house is the firepit and the pan over for cooking down the syrup. We do have a 1/2 gallon scoop that we use to move the syrup from one section to the other.

Mr. Caldwell started the process by lighting the fire around 5:00 a.m. and let me sleep in until 7:00. He is so good to me!!

Front view of the sugar house which is open on two sides to allow the steam to roll out!!

We save old fence posts just for the cookoff. They’re locust post and locust rails that are perfect for this special event!

We hook a water hose to the tank which is on the back of our Dodge pickup and park it on the driveway above the sugarhouse and let it gravity feed to the pan. It has a cut off so that we can cut it off when the pans are full. This saves us from carrying milkcans up and down the path.

Attaching the hose to the tank and flowing to the sugar house

The pan has four sections that we keep full at all times. The first two are wider than the last two and there is a slot opening that the sap flows through to keep the cooking at an even level. The third section of the pan is where the first thickening really starts to show and the smallest section holds about 3-4 gallons of sap and is the final thickening pan. As we work down the sap the pans stay full and when we run out of sap we start filling them with water to keep the pans from the scorching because the fire in the pit has to continue to stay hot and boiling.

The sugar house firepit was blazing and the steam coming off the pan was heavenly. Nothing like a good steam bath to open the pores!!

This is our holding tank that the sap is stored in during the tapping season. It holds 275 gallons but we downsized this year.

We only tapped seven trees that were in our yard and around the sugar house this year.

Closeup of the straining screen on the bucket.

Metal strainer bucket for straining at the trees when we gather and again before putting it in the holding tank.  Some of this is out of sequence but I think you’ll get the gist of it.  We had a wonderful day and my youngest aunt and uncle came and spent the day with us.  They had never seen the process and seemed to enjoy the day!  This was the first year that our kids weren’t involved but they had to work and the weather situation would not allow us to put it off!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13 thoughts on “Maple Syrup Season was Short & Sweet

  1. That is a good volume. We do not even bother here because the nights are not cold. I only did it a few times in the early 1990s because my colleagues said it could not be done here. I got just enough to brag about the first year, and then did it a few more times because I happen to like maple sugar. However, the season ends before it even starts, in the sense that the night are warm, and the buds start to swell before much sap drains out. The syrup tastes rather funny, and actually rather bad. Oh well. I happen to love North American maples. The native bigleaf maple is the sugaring maple in the West, and works nicely in British Columbia. The process is known as ‘maple sugaring’ because ‘sugaring’ means something completely different here.

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    • We make it every year and usually double what we did this year. We’ve not found another syrup to beat it and because it all natural and not loaded with commercial brown sugar to make it thicker makes it even better! We do lots of things the old way on this farm and try to teach our children and grandchildren those ways.

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      • We do not have that option because of the climate. I have done it anyway, but like I said, it is not worth it here.
        The old ways are not so easy anymore. It is getting more and more difficult just to heat the home with wood! New fireplaces are illegal. Old fireplaces that can not be repaired after an earthquake must be dismantled with no hopes of getting another. Only existing fireplaces are legal, and can only be used if the weather and air quality allows. Hens are outlawed in many suburban areas. So are bees. The list goes on . . . . but somehow, marijuana is quite legal.

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        • Wow, where do you live??? We have a farm in Virginia and our main source of heat is wood with a wood stove in the living room and a wood cook stove in the kitchen. My daughter is building her new home on our farm and will have an outdoor wood furnace for her heat. We both have propane as backup heat.

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          • I am in Los Gatos near San Jose. San Jose and the other towns in the Santa Clara Valley outlawed new fireplaces because of smog, but now they want to outlaw all the old ones too, and the people from there who migrate into the Santa Cruz Mountains want to enact the same laws here and everywhere else! Many of the old homes have no other sources of heat. I could not harvest the redwood from my property, even though the trees really should be thinned. (They are second generation growth after the primary harvest a century ago.) I am a horticulturist and arborist, so I know more about these things than those making the rules. Yet, treehuggers do not want us cutting down ANY trees, not even the invasive exotics like blue gum and acacia. I condemned (recommended prompt removal for) a DEAD ponderosa pine that was about to fall on a house in Scott’s Valley. The trunk was about six feet wide. We could not get a permit to remove the tree because there was a hole in it about seventy five feet up that ‘might’ have been inhabited by a woodpecker. So a ‘potential’ woodpecker that might have been there but might have not been there, had more rights to the property than someone who spent a few million dollars for the home. This sort of thing happens all the time here.

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        • Tree huggers are going to be the death of all of us!!! I wish I could tell you something to fix the problem but the only solution I have is move although I would give my eyeteeth to see a redwood tree!!! You are very fortunate to have that in your life!!!

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          • This is my home. My ancestors have been here for many generations. I know how to manage the recovering forest. I would not want to harvest my own trees if they had not already been harvested. I would however harvest them in their current condition because they are crowded. (Their biology is a long story.) Tree huggers are literally defending the damage that has been done to the environment rather than trying to manage it responsibly. Yet, they hate me for driving a car that uses gasoline. (My 1970 Dodge has been very good to the environment by NOT going into a landfill for nearly have a century.) Anyway, I should not rant.

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