Thursday, March 17, 2011

From Snow to Ice to...Mud? Get Those Taps In!

The front yard looks like moon craters. The walk from the front door to the sap jug is full of peril. 

Which brings me back to our last topic. How do you boil down sap? 

People do this different ways. People with a lot of trees will have a grill going or a bonfire. I hear that with a lot of sap boiling a bit of stickiness goes into the air with the water vapor. Not everyone wants to clean up after that. 

With my measly 2 trees that is no problem. 

I fill my dutch oven (any wide-bottomed pot is best...more heat-to-sap ratio). I turn the gas fairly high. I've never had this scorch unless you burn it all up at the end. 

That's it. For a long time. I've had a gallon take between 3-4 hours. You can be walking around doing laundry or cleaning. The last hour or so you should be in the kitchen. Do the dishes. Bake cookies. Something. 

The reason I say that is because the first time I boiled sap I was close for the first 2 hours. Then I got bored. Boredom is a deadly thing in the world of gas stoves. I burned out the bottom of that pot and smoked up the kitchen, so please pay attention. 

Pay attention to what? Well, there are a few signs to watch for. The color will change (slightly). Light brown. There might be a slight sheen on the top of the liquid as some of the sugars form. And of course there's the taste. Sweet, (comparatively) thick, and (to me) a little vanilla-y. 

If you need something more concrete you can use a thermometer. Sap becomes syrup at the boiling point of water (220 F) + 30 degrees (250 F). Personally, I can never get my gauge to show this, but I boil such small batches (a gallon or so) that I can tell by sight when its done (it only covers 1/2-1/3 of the pot bottom). 

Then I put it in a plastic container and set it in the fridge. If you have a lot of trees you can can it in quarts or pints. 

And be proud of your accomplishment, even if its only an ounce. More will come tomorrow.

1 comment:

Anna said...

This is such a fun family process and I highly recommend others trying it if they are able. This is our first year and it is great.