It is HOURS of work, but it is SUCH A SHORT TIME IN THE YEAR. Even if my husband stands out there and boils for 3 days straight, we would be able to make enough syrup to sell for the year.
I am excited about it because it reminds me that in the country there are SEASONS. There is a MULTITUDE of work and harvests but they all have THEIR OWN TIME. Right now it is Syrup. Next it will be egg incubation and fencing, the gardens, the weeding, the berries, the honey, the eggs, the chickens, the corn, the firewood....ect ect. It is not all at once but a continual circle of labor and harvest. I love that there are different things to do all the time. I would get bored doing the same thing all the time.
Sometimes the work can be overwhelming, but living on a farm reminds me that everything has its time and things will get done. Not everything has to be done at once, and CAN'T be done at once so enjoy the task at hand. Enjoy maple syrup time because it will be over very very soon.
I hope I can remember this come WEEDING time. I will have to repeat the mantra of 'It's just a short time...just a short time'....Soon I'll reap what I sow.
So Here we are year 2 of attempting our syrup. Last year did not go so well. THIS YEAR WE HAVE EXPERT HELP. His name is Kerry Allison and he is a Missionary from the Ukraine that is staying with us for a few days. He gave us the know how on how to boil this stuff down and has inspired me (my husband) to build a more permanent 'sugar shack'.
Here's how WE did it.......
You need a fire and a wind barrier. An enclosed sugar shack is better but this will do for now. The wind won't allow your pot to get hot enough. You bring the sap to a rolling boil....a WIDE pan 15cms deep works best but we are using a canning pot.
You bring the sap to a boil and slowly add more all the time. The ratio is 40:1. That means to make 1litre of syrup you need 40 litres of sap. So you HAVE to do it outside to accommodate the steam.
You boil for hours, adding more sap as you go. Some boil into the night as you see here. It's kinda like ice fishing. Patience and time are key....hence the sugar shack. Just kick up your feet and chill for a while....a long while.
I was pre heating the additional sap on the stove, then transferring it to the sap out on the fire. This kept the sap boiling outside.
As soon as the sap outside boils down and reaches a temp of 213F, ( Big bubbles all of a sudden turn to smaller rolling bubbles), you can bring it inside to finish it perfectly.
Kerry poured the hot sap through a pillowcase to get rid of the bits and put it on the stove. he boiled it and used a thermometer and waited till it read 219F.
I stood by right at the end to lift the pan when the bubbles got too high. Then we just rubbed butter along the top ridge of the pot to prevent over boiling...cool trick. wow bad picture of me.
Voila!! Golden yummy syrup. In one day we made about 35$ worth. We think we will end up with a couple gallons in the end...and we ONLY TAPPED 6 TREES.
Normally at this point you send the syrup through a felt filter to make it all crystal clear. We didn't have felt and couldn't care less about slightly cloudy syrup.
We just poured it into used containers. This bottle is .5 litre and goes for 11$ at the store. Ha!!