It's that time of year again in New England-sap boiling time! If we are lucky and don't screw things up like we did last year-it's syrup making time! Let me tell you though, making maple syrup is a royal PITA.
Sure the buckets look pretty on the trees.
I do, really, love going out there and emptying the sap buckets in the
afternoons. And boiling is actually pretty fun. I daresay I enjoy the
excuse to escape the chaos of a homeschooling-with-four-kids morning to
go load up the fire with more wood and check on the sap.
the end part that gets to me. When it starts getting on towards dusk
and I know it's time to put out the fire and bring the batch in and
finish it up on the stove. That part takes forever. And then
there is the watching and the nervous checking of the books to try to
figure out just when we should stop the boiling and call it syrup.
Because if you pull it too early you end up with very watery sap/syrup.
We did that last year. And if you boil it too long you end up with maple
sugar. We did that last year too.
This year, we have
only done one batch and I did manage to turn it into sugar. No, not
intentionally. But the book said the syrup should reach 7 degrees above
the boiling point of water. The problem there was that I was boiling in a
large pot and I didn't have the depth needed for an accurately working
candy thermometer by the time it got close. So basically, I had no clue what the temperature was. Apparently over that magical 7 degrees.
other problem was that the books all said the syrup should "apron" off
the spatula. I make jam all the time, so to me, "apron" means it will
slide off slowly in a kind of clumpy, oozy way.
Well, if you let it get to that point it will look great at first. Then
it will crystallize like mad when you start to filter it. Luckily, my
husband was able to rescue the batch by adding in some boiling water and
reboiling it. This time we stopped when the syrup left the spatula in a
stream rather than in individual drops. No aproning. It looked too
thin, but thickened right up. I didn't take a picture of that first
batch, which is too bad. It was really pretty! I had it on my pancakes
for my birthday breakfast:).
So we had some success!
But man, it takes A LOT of sap and A LOT of work to make maple syrup.
Now I know why it is so darn expensive! I am hoping the process gets
easier as we go.
Round 2 is up this week!