Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sweet rewards

Well, it's started. This morning I built a fire in the outdoor stove, set the pans over top and poured a bunch of sap into the pans. It took about an hour for the sap to start boiling, but it's going now. Every half hour I go out to stoke the fire and check on the sap level.

In the picture above the middle pan has started to boil, while the outer pans are still just steaming. This is going to take a long time to boil down. More experienced folk have told me it's okay to boil two days -- to let the sap/syrup sit overnight in a cool spot, to start boiling again the next day. That's probably what I'll end up doing.

I began tapping trees a week ago, when the temps were warm during the day but still freezing overnight. I ordered some supplies online, and also scavanged some buckets from local bakeries. I have both the traditional tapping setup and a more modern (plastic) setup. Both seem to be working great.

I tapped boxelder trees, and also an amur maple. Twenty-four trees total. I've collected about forty gallons of sap so far. With the boxelder sap to syrup ratio of about fifty to one, that means just under one gallon of finished syrup. My friend Kathy came out on Friday and took some sap home to boil down on her stove. She let it simmer overnight and says it tastes fantastic. Check out her blog (Resettling Big Stone County) from the 'Links I Like' margin on the left.

Today a group of girl scouts are coming out to check out the operation. Half the fun is doing a project like this to show yourself you can do it: the other fun half is sharing the project with others to show them that THEY can do it. And the rewards are, literally, so very sweet.


Anonymous said...

I hope you'll save us a little. There aren't any maple trees here in Hawaii....

Jim and Alice

Jo said...

We'd be very happy to serve you a hot stack of pancakes with homemade boxelder syrup. That means you have to come up for another visit!! The boys would love to see you again!
No maples in Hawaii, ah that's too bad. I feel really sorry for you, you and your year-round summers! (We're supposed to have another blizzard tomorrow, so please forgive my snarkiness.)