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Within the confines of this blog, you will find bits and pieces of the life and times of myself, my family and friend dear and near., far and wide, few and far between. You will find bits and pieces of my world, tho small to some, but huge to me. You will find everything from 'soup to nuts',; recipes, hobbies,crafts, gardenings,loves of my life, GrandLoves-a-Plenty, and even my pets... Sooo, if you can handle family life, enjoy the tour of my 'Stuffings'.

Monday, April 4, 2011

PURE Maple Syrup Season

                                      Tight Sugar Maple Buds Promise Pure Maple Syrup
This article is from 2011, so some of you may already have come on this ride, but this is similar to what we do today.  Now, however,  we put out 100 taps and do the majority of the cook-off at the cabin.   We are still and always will be a ' small family operation ' but not selling our product.  Come along, and I will  give you a taste of what we are up to to break up winter.     
~Saturday~April, 2011

Those of you who follow, already know that I have teased my dear love, Bill, about tapping just 6 trees. Well folks, he got the bug, and actually increased his productivity times 3, thus using 18 taps instead. I am no longer teasing. He worked so hard, for two days, a total of 21 1/2 hours, just to ' cook off ' his 35 gallons of maple sap from just a few of our hardwood trees.
Feast Your Eyes! Just look at that gorgeous amber-colored, PURE Maple Syrup. Is it ever delicious!
Follow along, and I will fill you in on what he did to accomplish this time-consuming process, the homemade, small family-produced way.After tapping the trees, a daily trip to the woods, is required, to collect the clear maple sap,as it collects in the pails, one drip at a time. This happens until you have enough sap to start your cook-off.
Depending on the weather, preferably, warm sunny days, cold nights, the pail slowly fills with sap that is rising from the bottom of the trees as the days lengthen and warm. Once the sap reaches the tight maple buds and gives nourishment to open them, the sap run is over. Only the good Lord and Mother Nature, determine the length and quality of the maple sap run., thus the quality of the syrup. Too many warm/hot days and warm nights means cloudy sap and the sweetness turns sour.
Looking at the sky, tells us that there may be another storm coming in, whether it's rain, snow, hail, wind, only time will tell. It's those dark, bottom clouds, that are telling us that we may be dumping tomorrow's run.
There is nothing as tempting, as an ice cold drink of sap, right out of the bucket, right off the tree, especially when you're a curious youngster. Sweet!It's hard to believe, that the clear sap is going to turn out to be a lip-smacking delight of pure maple syrup, as it lays in the pockets of a waffle.
Straining the sap several times on it's way to the cooker, is necessary to remove any bark, etc, that may have fallen into the bucket of a small family operation. The plastic tubing used by the big-time producers that put the maple syrup on your tables, eliminates this step.
Did you know that a turkey fryer has multiple uses? This weekend, it was used as an evaporator. Bill is pouring pre-heated sap into the final evaporator/kettle, to quicken the process.
We are cooking outside because we do not have a sap shack with fans and vents, so we are using Ma Nature to evaporate the steam that is created during the cook-off.
The first kettle is full of sap on the woodstove in the garage to pre-heat the cold sap.
From there, it is transferred with Bill's coffeepot, to the next pre-heat/pre-boil pan on the stove in the garage/canning section. It saves a lot of the time required to boil off 35 gallons of sap, to the syrup stage.

This was Sat. The sap finally started to boil in the make-shift evaporator in the late morning. We shut down the cook-off at 8 p.m. and started up again at 7 a.m. the next morning.~Sunday~
Just what we didn't need----another 3 1/2 inches of snow, sleet and wind. Wet, packy stuff that will most certainly mean dumping todays sap from the buckets, if this keeps up.
Many hours later, and the sap is starting to take some color and enhanced sweetness. A bit of this in my coffee was sure a treat with the cold wind.

Bill had to pull the operation into the edge of the garage door, set up wind blocks, and hope for the best.
There is a lot of hurry-up and wait, going on during the making of maple syrup for our family. And, a lot of steps. As the sap begins to boil, it leaves a froth that usually gets skimmed off the top, more for something to do, than any other purpose.
The entire process, in our case is for the ' fun of it.' The only profit we make is to see the smiles on the faces of our family as they consume the finished product. We spend hours watching so the cooker does not over boil and chance loosing the entire batch. It took 22 hours out of two days of cooking, to remove the water/moisture off the 35 gallons of sap to make 9 1/2 pints (1 gallon plus 1 1/2 pts.) of pure syrup. That's a long time. If we were to do this for a living, we would have to put out 30,000 taps and spend a fortune just in fuel to truck the tapped sap to production.
No, we only want enough for the kids to enjoy with their families, a taste.
It has given us a chance to break up winter a bit and utilize the beautiful hard maple trees we have on our property for other than firewood and lumber. The GrandLoves have had a ball watching and sneaking sips of sap, gathering, learning, so they, too can do this someday for their kids.Maple Syrup Season has been something that Bill and I both have seen as kids and we grew up learning. Only now, are we really learning to understand how time-consuming such a love is.
There are no pictures of pulling the pan from the fire, quickly straining the syrup through a sieve lined with 3 layers of dish towels, reheating and getting into the jars. This part has to happen quickly before loosing the benefit of the hot syrup. It's the ' breathe-holding ' moments.

All for the glory of that liquid gold in a canning jar.

Now to clean up after the fact. Any outdoor cooking kettles, pans, etc, that sits on an open flame for so long, gets tarnished with gases and soot. The best way to guarantee a quick clean-up, is really quite simple, if you remember this easy tip. Simply, wipe any liquid dish detergent on the outside of your pan before setting it on the flame. Even tho, this one had been on the flames twice, all day long, a nylon scraper easily took the burned on surface right off. Just rinse and dry., that simple.
I have done this even on my cast iron over a camp fire, and it cleans up so fast. If the pan is on the fire for just one use, all you need to do is to wipe it off with paper toweling or just spray it off. You cannot ask for an easier clean-up than that. Give it a try the next time you set a coffee pot, pan or griddle on an open fire. You will be amazed.I hope you have enjoyed jaunting the muddy trail with us in our quest to tempt our taste buds. It's been a blast from the past for me and I enjoyed every minute of it with my patient hubster, Bill, and the GrandLoves.

If you ever get the chance to do this with your loved ones, DO IT! I know, I know, it's takes an incredible amount of time, it is exhausting, it does not pay to do it on our small scale, in fact we went in the hole, but do it anyway. It is so worth it's weight in gold in more ways than one. Your heart will leap with satisfaction of creating something golden and delicious for your family. Furthermore, they will thank you in hugs and kisses. Now, what a better reason to make pure maple syrup, or liquid gold, as we call it! It's fantastic!!!!!
BlessYourHearts and ThanksForStopping


oil painting lessons said...

I like your blog!...Daniel

jack69 said...

This is a great education Dar. And I understand the importance of the 'grandloves' seeing this. I know that is part of their heritage. Something they will remember all their lives. It is very apparant now, the long hours and hard work.
Oh, I have always wondered about the clear sap and how it tastes. All Sap I have tasted is yuk! course we use it down here for terpentine, ha! the Pine stuff.

Take care and thanks to Bill and you for the education. And oh yes oh yes, it it very pretty and I am sure tastes great.

Love from down here, Sherry & Jack

Kathy said...

Such fun Dar....
I helped with sugaring one year at my friends in Gaylord Michigan,
Such good memories and delicious Pancakes!!!!!
Thanks for sharing sweetie,
xoxo~Kathy @
Sweet Up-North Mornings...

Teresa@oursoutherncountryhomeandfarm said...

Oh I love maple. I just asked hubby did we have some maple trees and he said yes, we have some silver maple, not sugar maple. I was ready to make some syrup lol. I would sure try it if we had the goods to do it with. Thank you so much for coming to my blog and leaving such sweet comments. Going to follow you along so that I can keep up with what ya'll make next. I think I would have made it just fine back in the "good ole days". Well, I couldn't kill an animal to eat, but I could sure can and put up veggies and things.

Farmchick said...

Such an amount of work that you guys have put into this. Really incredible.

texwisgirl said...

that's really neat. the turkey fryer cracked me up! i bet it worked well!

Paula said...

Thanks for sharing. I've never seen anything like this in my life. The maple syrup looks like it taste sooo good.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Wow Dar... That is AWESOME. Thank you so much for showing us the process--step by step... I am just so impressed....

Had a wonderful vacation --but we had lots of rain and FOG.... Fire in the fireplace almost constantly... That was GOOD!!!!!


The Wife of a Dairyman said...

Okay, I probably shouldn't admit this, but this clueless CA girl thought it came straight out of the tree all golden and ready to pour on those waffles! I've learned something today:)

Anonymous said...

It is gorgeous!!

Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski said...

This brings back wonderful memories of tapping the 'sugar bush' with my maternal grandfather. It was a tradition he carried on from his mother who was a member of the LdF Ojibwe. Thanks so much for sharing this - by the looks of the comments a lot of people learned about making maple syrup. Blessings to you!!!


P.S. A favorite at our house roast chunks of squash 400 deg. oven (add carrots and parsnips if you have on hand) approx. 10 minutes, pour maple syrup over and continue to roast additional 10 minutes or until done. Awesome!!!

Cher' Shots said...

Wow, that syrup sure bought back a flood of memories of sapping with Mom & Dad. Enjoy your liquid gold!
'love & hugs from afar'

Arkansas Patti said...

Never again will I complain about the price of real maple syrup. That is some process but what beautiful results. Makes one wonder who thought up the process in the beginning to make something delicious from tree sap.
Thanks for that tip, it is filed away.

Darla said...

Ya'll are making wonderful precious memories that your family will talk about for years to come! and it looks soooo yummy!!!

Cicero Sings said...

Everytime I eat maple syrup now (I love it on my oatmeal) I'll rhink of the process that put it on my table! Thanks for sharing the how to. We don't have maple trees here where I live but we do have birch. A syrup can be made from birch as well - not quite as sweet but good all the same.

Sunny said...

I miss the maple syuping back in PA! As a kid I watched and took part in boiing the sap down with my dad and his friends. We were abe to purchase some here in KY this year from an Amish family who made their own, but stil not as good as PA syrup. Loved your pictures! Thanks for the memories!!

madcobug said...

Very interesting. Bet those Grandloves will love that syrup over their pancakes and waffles. That one sure enjoyed sipping the raw juice.
Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

Randy Emmitt said...

Enjoyed this article very much. Looks like the family had a blast and made memories that will last a lifetime. When I was a kid in Ohio we tapped several trees and made a pint of syrup, surely did not know what we were doing like your family.

Paula said...

Back again to answer your question about the cattle prices. Hope it was you who asked, lol The prices are very good but so are the prices of feed. No rain makes it hard to make a good profit.

LivingInAurora.ca said...

Wow so many things I didn't know!
Anna :)

Head Gardener said...

Oh that post drives me wild with envy! Maple syrup is my absolute favorite thing in the world. I have it on my hot cereal every morning. There were great memories as a child being carted up to a sugar bush where the hot syrup was ladled onto snow for us to scoop up as maple candy.

A caution to newcomers to this activity. A neighbor of my uncle's tried his hand at sugaring off his maples and cooked up his first batch in his own kitchen. Oops... they soon learned the wisdom of the outdoor sugar shack. The evaporating liquid is airborne sugar. Their kitchen was ruined from ceiling to floor -- every square inch a crusty sugary mess.

Jacquelyn Stager said...

Hi Dar! Catching up on blog reading after a very busy "1st quarter" of the new year! I would LOVE to do this sometime...No wonder pure maple syrup is so expensive! Enjoy your pure gold...do you have a favorite pancake recipe to share? Your family has the most fun!!

chubskulit said...

Oh ,y, based from things that I read here in your blog, you are living in a paradise Dar!