Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sugaring Season

We have two maples. One in the back. One in the front.

Whoever did the landscaping in 1960 thought trees should be planted smackdab in the middle of the yard. Usually the only time I'm enjoying them is Autumn. They have beautiful bright red leaves. The rest of the time I'm wondering why anyone would plant a tree in the middle of a yard so that it shades out most flowers and vegetables.

Last year some friends of ours were over for dinner and the husband said, "those are good syrup trees." He probably said a lot of other things too like what kind of maple they are and how many taps he has going at his house and other things like that. He knows these things. He's from Northern Wisconsin.

Well, I was charmed by the thought. I've read Little House in the Big Woods. I remember my fascination with the fact that trees could make sugar for the pioneers. Heck, I don't even live that far from Pepin, Laura's first home in Wisconsin.

This Spring I picked up a few taps from Fleet Farm. My husband got an awl and a hammer and we went to the backyard. First we had to decide how high to make the hole. We had lots of suggestions for various boys about this. Then we had to figure out how to hang the milk jugs I'd bleached out. In a few moments we had them all hung and ready to go.

And the weather has been perfect, cold at night (below freezing) and warm during the day (40s). The front tree has been filling a milk jug every 24 hours on good days. On days where it's too cold, it slows to a trickle.

This is a picture of my second batch boiled down. It takes 4-5 hours in a large dutch oven on the stove. My first batch burned because I forgot about it. Right now I'm winging it by taste until I can get another digital thermometer.

Yum! Everyone gives it high marks and at the rate we're going we may get a whole 4 CUPS of the stuff (@40 gallons of sap makes 1 gallon of syrup). That should last....until the Farmer's Market starts up again and we can buy local honey.


lisa said...

What fun! I've always wanted to try this myself. They say you can make birch syrup too, and I have plenty of those...hmmm...;-) And thank you for stopping by my blog, BTW. I have added you to my links list, hope you don't mind! :)

Tam said...

I hear even box elders will do.

Thank you for your comments. I do enjoy your blog. You're always doing something!

I'd love to hear how birch syrup tastes. I know different maples have different tastes.

Kathi said...

We always tapped the maple trees when I was growing up in Wisconsin. My son's class took a field trip recently to the Dodge Nature Center here and they tapped box elder trees - the ratio of sap to syrup for box elders is like 80 to 1! Yikes. With my dad's trees it was 40 to 1.

There is nothing like the taste of maple syrup you have boiled down yourself. One thing I miss living in the city.

sasa said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.