Sunday, April 7, 2013

Maple Syrup Begins

Ken listening to Prairie Home Companion
Every  spring there is magic!  First the days lengthen, then ice and snow drip, birds come singing back to us, the earth softens and emits that wonderful smell of moist soil.  Mud season and maple syrup season arrive.  Many wish for spring early; I don't.  I want to savor each part of the reawakening, and rebirth of life, from eggs to broody hens to chicks.  From mud to snow crocuses to blooming fruit trees.  What is the rush?  If I wanted 70's and sunny all year I would move to San Diego.  I am a transplanted New Englander - stubborn and content with less.  Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without...

Wood fired syrup - some people use oil or gas

My birthday is in March.  I was born between snow storms.  And some years around my birthday I was lucky enough to visit my maternal grandparents in Vermont during "sugaring off" - maple season, the season when a person can enjoy being outdoors, feel spring coming and smell the aroma of maple sap boiling down to syrup

Warm enough to take off the gloves

Ken enjoys making maple syrup, and I am glad.  He plows through snow to tap all the trees - drilling holes, pounding in taps, hanging buckets, and when we are lucky collecting sap.  Sap run is based entirely upon the weather.  

Sap is running
When we have clear sunny wind - free days in the 40's and cool nights in the 20's the sap goes up the tree in the day and down back into the roots at night.  During each trip up and down the tree some of the sap drips out the spout into a bucket.  Last year it got into the 80's in March and the trees budded out - result:no sap to collect and no syrup.

It is hot enough to boil!
Once the sap is collected it is boiled down in a large flat pan that is called an evaporator.  It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.  This means watching the fire.  Scorched sap is worthless.  We have never come up with a way to salvage it.

This is a time of great transition from winter to spring and garden season.  I hope you can enjoy it as much as we do!


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