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