Sunday, February 27, 2011

Making Maple Syrup

It's sap boiling time!   Time to gather wood, squeeze the 3 inches of rain we've had in the past week out of it, light those fires and boil some sap.   And we're doing it today!

This what we start with - plain old maple sap right out of the tree.




This is our goal - maple syrup.   It takes 42 gallons of sap for a gallon of syrup.  You're shooting for 66% sugar content.





Here's the unit we're using this year to boil. 
 Eric's on the left and Mike Bell is on the right.  Mike designed this arch ['arch' is what you call a sap boiling unit.] from a filing cabinet.   He used a barrel stove kit [available at Menard's] and put a door on one end and a chimney on the other.  The left side is where the fire goes.  They built up the floor to ascend toward the chimney - pushing the heat up to where the sap pans go.



 The chimney end.


You can see in the center of the photo the grate where the fire goes.   They're using fire brick to line the ascent to the chimney at the other end.


The assembled arch with the pans in place.   The chimney is at the left of this photo.  


The fire end, packed and ready to burn.


This is Mike using a propane torch to dry out the wood and get the fire going.  [It's been raining and raining and raining here....]



We heart fire!

Sap in the pans, ready to go.   The darker stuff on the right has been boiled down some already.   We put the new sap in the left and as things boil down, we move the sap to the right.   The pan on the right will be syrup first.  



Boil, boil, boil!


This is our starter pan.  We heat the new sap up on this fire first before we put it in the pans.   It speeds things up.  



At the end of the day, we take the darkest stuff inside and finish boiling it on the stove.   This is so fresh that it isn't filtered yet.   Filter through cheese cloth or other food filters to get the ash out.   It's prettier that way. 

5 comments:

  1. This looks like a long process! No wonder good maple syrup is pricey in the store!

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  2. so how much sap does one tree produce? and do different trees make different flavoring in their syrup?

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  3. It is indeed a lot of work. Not just the sap part, but the hauling wood and tending fire part. That said, the flavor imparted by the wood smoke makes premium syrup in my opinion.

    Sugar maples make the most and the best syrup, but any maple will do. The size of the tree also effects how much sap you can get. We can get 40 gallons of sap from one tree, but it takes a few weeks to collect it. Below freezing nights and 40s in the daytime seems to make the tree produce the fastest.

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  4. thank you for the information, you make my day. I love learning things like that and to just read it from a book is so boring and they leave out so much information..the steps they assume you already know. I love how you show all the steps and explain the easy and hard parts of things. :)

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  5. Beautiful. I live close to the land vicariously through you. (Hub wants to learn how to go off the grid--not like in a tent, but like, our own water, our own power, our own food, that sort of thing. I'm sending him your way for a month. You could learn him a lot.)

    Fascinating post and great pictures.

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