We had more success this time, than the last time. Thanks to a bit of a wild, wet weekend most of our burning wood got soaked. So we were faced with a full barrel of sap and no real way to boil.
I was getting pretty desperate-sap does spoil after all! So I tried putting some sap in our two big crock-pots and some in the rice cooker. The crock-pots worked very, very slowly. Not worth it at all. I was kind of surprised. Since they always manage to dry out my dinner, I expected better out of them;). The rice cooker worked pretty well but there is only so much sap it can take!
So we resorted to this setup.
A propane-fired camp stove propped up on the gas grill. The big barrel is a food-safe storage container we use to hold sap. Incidentally, restaurant supply stores are great! We found both the storage container and the big pan at ours.
We tried just the gas grill first but...since nothing is ever easy;).... it wouldn't start. So we busted out the camp stove. I do not think this is the most efficient way or the most charming way to boil sap, but in a pinch it did the trick.
Our process went like this:
Filled the evaporator pan about half-full with sap and started the grill.
Filled up a saucepan with sap and brought it in to warm on top of the wood stove, since adding cold sap on top of boiling sap slows everything down.
About every half-hour, added the warmed pot of sap to the boiling sap and brought in another saucepan of sap to warm.
Repeated for much of the day until the barrel was empty.
Then we boiled for another couple of hours and brought the rest inside to finish off on the stove. We brought it just to the point where small bubbles covered the entire surface of the liquid. There is good picture of bubbly sap here, to show you what that looks like. Scroll down to "Complete the Boiling". In our experience, when the syrup has come to a nice full boil like this, it is done. It takes longer than you think! At the same time, you do need to watch carefully to avoid over-boiling!
We let it cool a bit, then transferred it to jars.
Not a bad haul so far. This is from about 20-25 gallons of sap. There is still some sediment on the bottom, which is normal, but we will need to filter it to make it even prettier.
It was a good day, but I can't say I am sorry to have a few days off from boiling! If you want more details, the two books I referenced in this post are great to have on hand. Also the Tap My Trees website is a good place to get started.
Linking up with Homestead Barn Hop