This is an updated post to commemorate our thrid year of tapping a few of our maples. The first year was wildly successful as we gained about a quart of syrup from our efforts. Last year was a catastrophe because the number of days where the temp hoovered between 40 degrees at day and 20 degrees at night were practically non-existent. We'll tap tomorrow, after this lovely bit of snow passes and the temp rises again to 40. I have had this maple tree tapping kit for about 3 years. I came across it back in January while cleaning out the dining room closet and told myself, ‘This is the year!’ Many of you know I have a thing for Vermont. Bob and I traveled to the Green Mountain State several times in 2007-08 testing the vibe. It was only a random comment from a friend who lives in Rutland, VT that led us to look elsewhere. He said he used a backhoe to shovel snow from his driveway each winter…
We lucked out when we found this little farm because the people who built it were originally from Vermont. The house is surrounded by white pines and sugar maples, grown to maturity now from saplings they would bring back with them after their yearly visits ‘back home’.
The kit I purchased had 5 taps in it, some tubing, a candy thermometer, a very large filter, and an instruction book. At first I was disappointed by having only 5 taps. People, let me tell you, 5 is more than enough. The most productive tree gives me 2 gallons of sap per day. Next year I will tap 2 trees at a time until I get the flow right. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. We are cooking it down 5 gallons at a time, which makes about a quart of syrup.
So, first I tapped the trees. I am not handy, but was able to do it without help from Bob!
Then, I collected the sap in food grade carboys we had around from other projects.
I filtered the sap, 5 gallons at a time into a big ol’ soup pot and turned the flame on high.
It took 12 hours to cook the sap down to syrup. In that time I had enough sap collected to start all over again.
Then, the temperature dropped and the sap started flowing a little more slowly. Thank goodness! Time to clean and prepare for the next rush of sap that will start again any moment now.
The best thing about any of these homesteading projects is that you build a deeply personal connection to the basic elements of your life like food, water, and time. The next best thing is that the projects teach us how resourceful we can be. With each project I feel less reliant on the supermarket and more in tune with the natural rhythms of the seasons and their bounties.
Tell me, what has been your favorite homemade-homegrown project?