Monday, February 25, 2013

Sugaring Time!

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.

And 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.

It's 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.

The 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.

Yeah. 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!

1 comment:

  1. We gave up on the 219 degree thing too! We eyeball it every time! Much easier! We judge it by the bubbles! It may sound risky but it works like a charm!:) Thanks for stopping by The Chick n ' Coop!:)