Sunday, March 16, 2014
As I mentioned here, we are attempting to collect sap and make our own maple syrup this year. Yesterday after a week of intermittent temperatures and two good sap flow days that yielded 15 gallons of sap, we decided to cook down what we had collected so far.
Our method of choice was a large propane operated camp stove, which seemed to do the trick quite nicely. Next time if the snow cover has subsided we may try doing this over a wood burning fire.
Would you expect anything less of a small animal veterinarian, than to have access to the perfect bulk sugaring device? An unused stainless steel kennel from work was the perfect tool for the job.
As we collected sap during the week, we stored it in a couple of large buckets that we packed in snow. I suspect by the time we get to cooking next weekend, our snow cover will be sparse, but the nighttime temperatures should continue to work in our favor.
So basically, you do nothing to the sap but cook it, and cook it, and cook it. The sap is comprised of a great deal of water so your aim is to evaporate all of it off.
Once our volume had reduced from fifteen gallons to about three gallons, in this case seven hours, we poured it into a couple of large stock pots to finish in the house.
The indoor finishing process took an additional three and a half hours. The sap begins to turn amber, reduce more dramatically, and most importantly taste like maple syrup. What you are looking for is your syrup temperature to reach seven degrees above where water will boil in your location on that day. So for us, the temperature we needed was 217 degrees. You have to be very careful not to cook it over that temperature or you can scorch it. Trust me, after this time investment, no one wants that to happen.
So at 1:30 am this morning after ten and a half hours of cooking our syrup was jarred and us put to bed. We learned a few great things, this is truly an easy task, just time consuming and we need to start much earlier next time. We yielded 4 pints from 15 gallons. Based on what we ended up with our sugar concentration was 3% which is what we would expect from sugar maples and so fantastic for the silver maples we are using. With the weather appearing to be ideal this coming week, we are looking forward to how much we can collect for next weekend.