Last month I wrote about collecting sap from our very own trees to make maple syrup. The process netted just over one gallon of syrup and a whole lot of respect for the maple syrup producers out there.
Compared to our three taps and one gallon of syrup, Cooks’ Woods near Fennimore put in 500 taps and produced about 100 gallons of syrup. Their prices range from $4.50 for an 8-oz. bottle to $60.40 for one gallon, with several sizes in between.
Our small effort produced quite a bit of sap. In fact, it was an enormous relief when the temperatures stayed above freezing at night and the sap finally quit flowing.
Here are some lessons we’ll remember for the 2014 sugaring season:
1) Collect containers in advance. Kids: “No thanks on the milk, mom.” Me: “But I need that container. Drink up!”
2) Boil sap down regularly. Rearranging the fridge again to fit another jug/tupperware/juice container gets old. So does not having actual food in the fridge because of capacity issues.
3) Find more efficient way to boil down sap. About three tanks of propane were used to produce about one gallon of syrup. You do the math, because I don’t want to know how much we spent on this saptastrophe.
4) Don’t boil sap in the house. Ants! Peeling wallpaper! Stickiness everywhere! There is a reason those sugar shacks exist. Luckily we did not learn this lesson the hard way. Finishing the syrup inside is okay, but boiling down the majority of it outside is a must.
5) Find lots of good recipes. So far we’ve drizzled our syrup on the obvious – pancakes and waffles – but I’m ready to try Maple Scones, Maple Yogurt, Maple Walnut Ice Cream or Maple Mustard Pork Tenderloin.
Despite the inconvenience and expense, we’ll do it again next year because the final product is so delicious. Maple Leaf Cocktail, anyone?
Contributed by Susan Webb
maple is sort of an old fashioned flavor. ive always loved it. when i was a kid there was an elderly couple in mukwanago, wi. that made maple sugar candy from their trees in the backyard, then sold it from their front porch. a nice memory for sure. i think that maple and mint might work. how bout maple mohitas? how bout maple and bacon? i already stir my morning orange juice with a bacon strip, its great!
I love this post Susan. How about making some maple butter or maple hot chocolate (while it’s still winter out)! 😉 Rick, I’ll probably try stirring my OJ with a strip of bacon. Hahaha…
I’ve been doing Maple Syrup for 3 years now. First year, I collected from just two gigantic sugar maples down a steep slope. I had 3 taps on each tree (40″dbh). Had to haul it up on foot, in 5 gallon buckets. What a workout! Made 1 gal of syrup the first year, after 3-4 propane tanks. That’s expensive! Second year, I couldn’t stand the thought of making it up and down the slope or the thought of all that propane, so tapped silver maples next to the house. Expanded my taps from 6-12, bought some cinder blocks and made an outdoor firepit, which I tended every 30 minutes for two full weekends. I produced almost 3 gallons of syrup! I was actually glad when the sap stopped flowing too! Always finished the syrup inside. Mmm…that year actually produced a dark and a light syrup. This past year was weird. The sap started, then stopped, then started up again. I got about 2 gallons of syrup. So delicious! I’ll agree with you…it’s a labor of love and I’ll do it again.
Great job Susan! A bunch of us at coffee heard updates on a regular basis–enjoying the whole progress but not having to do all–and I mean–all of the work. We didn’t get to lick our fingers at the end but enjoyed watching the progress.
I’m Bill’s Mom and Susan’s Mom In Law and I’m from Louisiana. Very impressed with their maple syrup endeavors. Yea, you all need to try the maple sugar candy next year. So delicious. Have fun.
Thanks for the responses, everyone! Maple flavor does seem to go with everything, doesn’t it? Kathy, I think we’re going to look into the outdoor firepit method next year.