Saturday, March 19, 2011

Maple Sugaring Frugally

We have very small maple trees here on our little homestead.  But, last summer Mike began to clear out around them so that they will get more sunlight and grow around instead of just straight up searching for the light.
We have just 9 tapped right now, but hope to add more as the trees continue to grow.

We made a small amount of maple syrup each season without investing any money.  Here is how -

We were given the buckets and covers from a neighbor that was converting over to the plastic tubing suctions system (which I wonder about all of that plastic....).  We did buy the taps themselves which were inexpensive.

After collecting the sap into a bucket, it is strained into a large pan with a piece of muslin or loose weave fabric with a large rubber band around it to hold it in place.  Make sure the fabric is loose in the middle a bit so the sap doesn't splatter all over.  I pour the sap from the collection bucket into this pan in our bath tub to prevent messes.

Next, the strained sap from the large pan is poured into our stainless steel roasting pan.  We received this pan for a wedding gift almost 19 years ago.  It came with a top and bottom.  One half has become our turkey roaster and the other half has become our maple sugaring pan.  Since it is still very cool here in northern Vermont, we burn the sap off on the woodstove.  As it burns off, you don't really need to pay attention until it begins to darken, and slightly thicken.   When this happens increase the heat just a bit until it comes to a boil (you could do this on your regular stove or outside on a fire as well)  and stir.  As you are stirring lift your spoon (stainless steel) in and out of the sap to see if a layer is beginning to stay on the spoon even when you hold it up.  Try a little too (be careful not to burn your mouth).  This part of knowing when it is ready does take a little trial and error.  You may get a batch that almost turns to sugar or you may get a batch that is a bit too runny.

This is what we do for the final filtration process.  I put a canner funnel (not sure if that is the correct name) inside a canning jar with a piece of cleaned wool felt inside the it.  Pour your syrup through.

This is our first syrup.  We had it this morning with pancakes and it was our best yet.  Just the right consistency.

It really is rewarding to go through the process ourselves and to use the resources available here on our little homestead.

I would love to hear about your experiences and suggestions regarding maple sugaring and welcome any questions.

Warm wishes, Tonya

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