Maple Syrup

It’s been a few years since we last tapped any of our maple trees. We’d been talking about doing it again but admittedly it was at the prodding and initiation of our 14-year old son that it got done this year.

Right now there are fourteen maples with galvanized metal buckets and lids lining our driveway. Well, actually thirteen. One of the buckets had a hole in it so was removed (although for some unbeknownst reason the spout and lid still remain). No big deal though as that tree has yet to run.

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The trees have been tapped for a few weeks now and we’ve got a good amount of sap as most of the trees have run well. Hopefully it’ll be as good a year as we’ve had in the past.

Our first time was a real bumper year much to my surprise. Being from Western Canada and not having grown up with buckets hanging off trees in my backyard I figured there had to more to making maple syrup than: 1) drill hole; 2) collect sap; 3) boil til it looks good; and 4) eat.

Of course, there is a more science to it if you really care about producing a high-end product. We were happy with the thick dark syrup that resulted from boiling the sap outside over an open fire in two big canning pots. From our perspective, the “flankers” that snapped out of the fire and flew into the pot just added a “smokey, artisanal” flavor to our syrup. Never mind the bit of residue in the bottom of the bottle either. Once you get the hang of pouring slowly when the bottle is almost empty – no problem – the residue stays in the bottle. Not that any of us cared much one way or the other but the next year we did get the proper straining technique figured out with a thick felt filter.

Another memorable moment was finding a huge crystal of sugar in the bottom of one of the jars after it had sat a few months. It is likely a very clear sign of our amateur status in the world of “sugaring-off” but we were all quite fascinated with it to tell the truth.

As for our current attempt, the cold snap has put an end to the sap running for the time being. Hopefully the warm weather returns soon. Whatever amount of syrup we end up with this year it’s always great reason to get outside and get some fresh air with a delicious payoff.

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