tap, drip, collect, boil (and boil, and boil....)

it was supposed to snow towards the end of last week.  maybe even a lot.  we were excited.
but then it passed over us, somehow.  to the west- snow, to the north- snow, to the east- snow.  we were like a little bubble of not-quite-cold-enough that missed it all.

oh well.  at least winter is really here right now, and by the looks of things he's sticking around for a bit.  freezing nights, thawing sunny days.... just right for tapping some trees.

and so that's just what we did.

(a bit less romantic than wooden crates and galvanized buckets, but hey, it works!)

on friday we tapped four large sugar maples in our neighborhood, setting a total of eight taps.  the sap came drip-dripping out, a lovely sight.  we started dreaming about tapping some trees down here last fall and because of a lack of motivation and proper weather, it never did happen.  we decided that if the weather was right, this year we'd go for it.  I put taps and a backyard sugaring book in Mike's stocking this Christmas and after a few trips to the hardware store for buckets and tubing, we were set.  add in a large stainless steel catering pan, an old wood stove, and a 55 gallon food grade barrel (never mind that it once held pickled peppers, we worked hard to get (most) of the residual smell out before pouring sap in after our daily collections), and we were good to go.

on saturday we went, not at all knowing what to expect, to check on the sap situation.  we came away with 10 gallons, about 2 1/2 from each tree!  woohoo!  (it takes 40 gallons (ish) of sap to yield a gallon (ish) of syrup).  on sunday, same story, and on monday, even more.  we realized we best get boiling and so yesterday mike got everything set up and we got started.  it was very cold, just hovering at freezing, so the sap wasn't flowing quite as much, but we still collected another 4 gallons.  the first setup lacked a proper stove pipe- we were trying to use some aluminum dryer pipe that we had laying around, thinking it just might work.  for a while, it did.  but then when we loaded a bunch of yellow pine in and the fire got really hot.... well, not so much.  a trip to the stove shop and about $45 later (the nice man at the shop discounted the pipe a bit after hearing what it was for) and we were set up with a respectable evaporator with 8 feet of proper stove pipe.  it's still, as Mike puts it,  a 'cobbled together' system, but we are quite alright with that.

our little setup, sheltered from wind and tucked between the woodshed and workshop

tasting the warm sap-syrup shortly before calling it a night

the boiling (re)commenced and went on late into the evening.  it's no part-time thing, this boiling down.  we have to add wood and/or more sap on a very regular basis (about every 20-30 minutes, on average).  there is a metal coffee can next to the chimney, with a small hole poked near the bottom.  it acts as a small 'preheating' receptacle for sap on it's way into the pan.  we skim off the foam, add some wood, top off the coffee can, hang out near the warmth of the fire, sip at the warm sap-syrup, and breathe in that sweet sweet smell of maple-y goodness.  

another tasting, not long after getting things going this morning

this may just very well be my favorite homesteading-esque adventure yet.


  1. I have a better appreciation of what my dad does to gift me his maple syrup. It looks like you had amazing clear blue days as you snapped your photos!

  2. these have been some beautifully crisp and blue (and cold!) days~ we are having a lot of fun with our first syrup-making adventure, for sure.

  3. Replies
    1. we are having a blast! thanks for taking time to say hi~


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