2.28.2014

sugaring










after these last two years of making our own maple syrup (we've been tapping sugar maples in the neighborhood) I have a very big appreciation for all that goes into the production of this sweet, sweet goodness.  on a small scale like ours, the necessary wood acquisition alone, to feed those hungry sap fires all day long.... just that required hours and hours of our (by which I mean Mike's) time.  and then there was the cutting of said wood, the hauling, the tapping and checking of sap buckets daily (except for those stretches when it never got above freezing day or night thanks to that tricky polar vortex business), the fire-tending and sap refilling..... wow.

I like to joke with Mike, saying "well, pa- we just can't go nowhere else during sugarin' season"... but it's actually quite true, at least for the days when we're boiling off the sap.

we finished the year with a grand total of about 4 1/4 gallons.  2 1/2(ish) of which we are keeping (that's about what we use in a year- not just for pancakes of course, but in granola and other baking as well), a bit was shared with the homeowners whose trees we tapped, and the rest (about 1 1/2 gallons) we've sold by word of mouth to friends.

if you've got sugar maples in your backyard, on your property, or even in your neighborhood- I highly recommend this as a fun (time consuming, yes- but in a very satisfying and fun way) winter tradition for you and yours.  I'm happy to chat more about the how-to's of it all if anyone would like.

16 comments:

  1. I can't believe you are finished tapping already, we haven't even started yet. This will be out third year tapping four trees around our property. You are right about the amount of work, time and wood, but it is so worth it. Hopefully we will be tapping in the next few weeks..fingers crossed. Happy weekend.

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    1. we tapped the trees the third week of January! our time of freezing nights and thawing days happens way sooner down here in NC~ even though we're in the mountains, it's still pretty far south. I'd almost gamble and say this is about the furthest south that much sugaring goes on, but I really have no idea. we started last year with 4 large trees and added 5 more (smaller) trees this year. I love, love, love, love, love it. have fun!

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  2. It makes it so real, I just go to the supermarket and buy it. Well done.

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    1. thanks~ it's always fun to see what's involved in getting things we use to our homes and on our tables, isn't it?

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  3. wow...just reading this, it puts into perspective how much energy/resources humans require. i mean, it's so easy to pull a quart of maple syrup off the shelf at the grocery store and NOT think about the process. we have such an abundance!

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  4. I think it's wonderful that you tap trees and get syrup. We have maples here, but they are not sugar maples so no tapping.
    Enjoy a little for me okay? :)
    Have a super weekend.

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    1. thanks, Tracey~

      and you know..... you actually can tap any species of maple, the sugar content is just the highest in sugar maples (97% water, 3% sugar), so the time it takes to boil off the water and reduce it to syrup is a bit less than with others. I've heard of people successfully making syrup from the sap of red maples and silver maples as well, it just takes more sap to yield a gallon of syrup.

      I will enjoy some for you, yes ;)

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    2. That is great information to know Amanda, thank you.
      I have a red maple behind my home so next year I will have to
      be prepared. :)

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    3. I guess your limiting factor will be weather- the trees need a period of freezing nights and thawing days to get the sap flowing in late winter.....

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  5. I ask about tapping and boom, you blog! That is quite a lot of syrup!! I haven't asked my dad if he started yet. last year he was disappointed BUT he built a "sugar shack" his words not mine so I cannot believe he would abandon the hobby!

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    1. tis' why my response when you asked was so short- because I had just written this! I bet it will be a good year for him, I think those really cold spells helped somehow. he's in PA, right? good luck to him~

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  6. that is sooo cool! we LOVE maple syrup here. it and honey are used to replace sugar in almost every situation :) and after reading about the process through various blogs... i don't feel a bit bad paying the large price tag, because i see now why it is so expensive. it is so good that you (and others) share this so the rest of us came see the amount of energy that goes into making this sacred syrup :)

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    1. thanks, Jenny~ it is a labor of love but so, so worth it.
      good soul food, for me. doing these things, I mean.

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thanks for taking the time to read and comment~