Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sugaring Time!

Last Friday we had the special privilege of seeing a local sugar shack boiling down some maple sap! A man from our church has his own small shack and it was a real pleasure to go and see this rite of spring. There were a bunch of us from the local homeschool group, of which his daughter and her family are members, and we stayed a long time. It was a lovely 60 degrees that afternoon (I must hang on to that memory as it has been snowing all day here) and the kids ran and mudded through the woods. If you could have seen I8's whole backside. He was a sight!

First, the kids helped to identify which trees were sugar maples. This one is too small to tap.

R10 boldly asks if she can try her hand at drilling the hole in the trunk.

A bucket of sap- which we were allowed to try. Pretty much tastes like sugar water.

Here are the taps also called stiles. When the sap runs, the buckets get full. Mr. G says that some of his bigger trees can fill a bucket overflowing over night!

Here the sap is boiling down. He's working on the best method- he's made his own boiler so he's been working on something more efficient. We did the math on the collection of 350 gallons of sap from his 8-9 trees a season.

Boiling sap! He will remove the sap before it's all done and start again the next best day. Gone are the days when he would babysit boiling sap all night!

The kids got to taste the partially boiled sap. Reports say it was yummy! It's looking a bit more like maple syrup now.

This where Mr. G filters his syrup before finishing off the boiling inside. There's a paper filter for larger things (that might fall into your sap while boiling it) and a felt one that really gets out the particulates.
What a view! Actually, just a few miles down the road from my house there is a similar view. The weather may be trying here sometimes, but it's beautiful.

We learned that sap early in the season makes light syrup which is the Grade A maple syrup that is expensive and later in the season the syrup goes darker and is B Grade syrup used in candies and foods.

E12 wanted to know what percentage of the water gets boiled off to make good syrup. An answer came with some math- If 350 gallons of sap are collected and it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup, then about 97% of the water is boiled off. We also figured out how many 5 gallon buckets Mr. G hauls around during this 6 week season. That's a lot of work considering the weight of each one. Yeah...Dan and E12 worked on that math too.

All this makes me want to tap a few trees next spring just to try it out. Our neighbor has a few sugar maples. Do you think they would mind?

8 comments:

Pebblekeeper ~ Angie said...

What a fun day and excellent photos! It is one of the things I have never seen, an would like to. Not alot of chance in the Pacific Northwest. But if we could turn spruce pitch into gold, we'd be millionaires! ha. I don't stop to comment alot, but I enjoy your posts every day!

Kisha said...

What fun! We just finished reading the chapter in Little House in the Big Woods about tapping trees and making sugar snow. Neat experience for your kids!

tiffany0512 said...

What a great trip! I wish we had sugar maples around here.

Michele said...

What a fun trip! We went sugar mapling with our homeschool group back in February and had a fantastic time. We want to go back! We read Miracles on Maple Hill to go along with our trip!

Gail said...

Fun! We have been boiling and boiling for almost 2 weeks now. It is so good to sit at your table and taste the golden sweetness of your labors!

Heather said...

Very fun Gail! I would love to try it sometime, but you know...we live in the village and all.

Heather

Valerie said...

Heather, you can make syrup in the village! We have a back yard the size of a postage stamp, but we have two maples. We tapped them and are boiling the sap outside in a turkey fryer using propane tanks. So far, we have almost 2 quarts of syrup! And it has provided "farm chores" for my kids - otherwise a bit hard to come by in town. :-)

Heather said...

AWESOME Valerie!!

Guess I'll chat with our neighbors...not one maple tree in our own yard.

thanks for sharing your story Valerie!

happy sugaring!