In contemplating the present opening prospects in human affairs, I am led to expect that a material part of the general happiness which Heaven seems to have prepared for mankind, will be derived from the manufacture and general use of Maple Sugar.
Letter to Thomas Jefferson by Benjamin Rush, August 19, 1791
Looks like times haven't changed all that much when it comes to the gift of turning maple sap into maple syrup and maple sugar. It does seem like a sweet gift from Heaven. Sugaring was one of the goal projects at the hobby farm this year and I am happy to call it a great success!
I'm sending a huge thank you to our daughters for the Christmas gift of the tools to tap the trees. I'm looking forward to making pancakes and waffles for you throughout the year with delicious, pure maple syrup right from our own trees.
Sap collection was very easy. We checked the jugs a couple of times a day...sometimes they were half full and other days completely overflowing. It was interesting to watch how the fluctuating temperatures and varied amount of sunshine affected the sap flow. It was even more interesting to see that one day this tree produced more and then on another day, a different tree produced better.
We boiled the sap down inside the house on the stove. I know that is not recommended because of the amount of moisture it puts in the air inside the house. We really did not encounter any problems with the relatively small amount of sap we collected.
I say small but, in reality, we collected sixty gallons of sap in two weeks time. I stopped collecting when I started to see tiny buds on the trees and when the sap flow started to slow down. That sixty gallons of sap became one gallon of pure, amber colored, delicious, thick maple syrup. That is about the amount of syrup we use in one year's time. I am thrilled with the result.
There was only one boil-over mishap and yes, that was quite a sticky mess but caused me to seek out some education. Boil-over will occur very quickly when the syrup is getting close to the right consistency. It can be calmed quite easily just by touching the surface of the liquid with a little pat of butter. It was amazing to watch the bubbles that were climbing up the side of the deep pot retreat rapidly in the presence of that little bit of fat. The beautiful syrup was placed in sterilized canning jars while it was hot and is now being stored in the freezer to keep it perfect all year long.
Next year, Bob has promised me a sugar shack to do the evaporating in a more traditional way. I think the addition of wood smoke will make the syrup taste even better!
In true hobby farm fashion, I'm proud that I have produced all the maple syrup we will use this year right on our land. The project was easy enough that we all agree to do it again next year....and maybe instead of tapping four trees, we will tap eight....I'll let you know :)
Peace be with you,
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