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Light at the End of the Tunnel

March 14th, 2011

This year sugaring season has lasted so much longer than the previous two years that we sugared. On Saturday, I finished off what will mostly likely be the final batch of maple syrup for the season. I still have 30 gallons of sap to process and I’m going to try reducing it slightly and using it to make maple vinegar (should be an interesting endeavor).

We tapped our maple trees on February 13th and collected 240 gallons of sap so far. We’ve processed about 210 gallons of that sap so far and have about 5 gallons of syrup. Gathering, straining, and boiling down sap has been taking up all of our spare time over the past month, especially during the last 2 weeks. At least we know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and we have a lot of sweet reward in the basement pantry!

What are we going to do with all that syrup? Use it on pancakes, french toast, for sweetening tea and in baking. Fruit sweetened with maple syrup makes a fabulous pandowdy or cobbler. If you haven’t tried sweetening your chai tea with maple syrup you’re missing out! I’m most excited about a fresh batch of french toast as it’s my favorite way to enjoy maple syrup. I’m baking up a few loaves of cinnamon raison bread today and we’ll be enjoying some delicious french toast for breakfast later this week.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy maple syrup?

28 Comments to “Light at the End of the Tunnel”
  1. kristin @ going country on March 14, 2011 at 6:32 am

    HOLY that’s a lot of sap. And a lot of work. We’re doing one more day of syrup-making tomorrow, and then I think that may be it for us. Bummer. Weird season this year here.

    In my opinion, the best use for maple syrup is in gluttonous quantities on pancakes. But it is also excellent in yogurt and on top of vanilla ice cream. Have you tried it on vanilla ice cream? Tastes like butterscotch. YUM.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

    • Susy on March 14, 2011 at 8:12 am

      I do love it on plain yogurt with some pecans or walnuts. Delicious! I’ll have to put some on ice cream the next time we make some.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  2. Kathi on March 14, 2011 at 6:58 am

    Wow that’s alot of syrup. I won’t eat oatmeal without a drizzle of maple syrup on it. At the farmer’s market we use maple syrup in our vanilla/maple ice cream shakes.

    Reply to Kathi's comment

  3. pam on March 14, 2011 at 7:03 am

    I adore maple syrup and would be giddy with excitement at the thought of all of that waiting for me!

    Reply to pam's comment

  4. Kirsten Serrano on March 14, 2011 at 8:20 am

    we use some of ours to make maple sorbet. yum

    Reply to Kirsten Serrano's comment

  5. Daedre Craig on March 14, 2011 at 8:54 am


    Reply to Daedre Craig's comment

  6. Garth on March 14, 2011 at 8:56 am

    I don’t know if you take “requests” but I’d love to see a post on how you make maple vinegar. I’ve made malt and red wine vinegar before (and “made” is kind of a loose term since it involves just letting it sit for months on end) but how would you do it with maple syrup? Do you ferment it first to make some sort of alcoholic maple? I’m very curious.

    Reply to Garth's comment

  7. Denimflyz on March 14, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Pancakes, YES.
    You are so very blessed with the ability to sugar your trees. I have only had real Maple syrup once, a very long time ago, when my grandmother had some, my granddad bartered some electrical services of his for some maple syrup and some other staples they needed, things were very rough then here in the 60’s.
    Enjoy your syrup and the upcoming spring, we are supposed to get decent weather here in Nebraska so maybe I can get started on some projects that have been released from winter’s icy bonds.
    Take care

    Reply to Denimflyz's comment

  8. MAYBELLINE on March 14, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Buttermilk pancakes with sausages.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  9. Brittany P. on March 14, 2011 at 10:50 am

    That’s a lot of syrup. WOW! I wish we could do that down south (Georgia) but alas no go. We do have sugar cane though and make syrup from that. I don’t even think I have ever had real fresh maple syrup or tasted maple sugar for that matter.

    Reply to Brittany P.'s comment

  10. melissa on March 14, 2011 at 11:04 am

    straight out of the bottle.

    but since that’s not really a good option (not if I want to keep out of the hospital or keep from weighing 500 lbs.), on pancakes or waffles. :)

    Reply to melissa's comment

  11. mich on March 14, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Dont use maple syrup very often; but its usually on pancakes & ice cream :)
    Er…what is a pandowdy?

    Reply to mich's comment

    • Susy on March 14, 2011 at 11:30 am

      It’s kind of like a cobbler but with more a flaky pie crust type topping. Here’s a brief explanation and a photo I did a while back.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  12. Andrea on March 14, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Your so inspiring!!
    BTW, my gloves arrived last week :-)

    Reply to Andrea's comment

  13. Jenny on March 14, 2011 at 11:48 am

    I like mine on other breakfast foods as well. It is awesome drizzled on a plate of eggs, bacon, and hashbrowns. The salty, greasy, and maply go so well together. I sometimes get weird looks in restaurants when I order a plate of bacon and eggs, and then ask for the jug of syrup.

    Reply to Jenny's comment

  14. Stone Soup on March 14, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    We are in full sap swing in Maine! This is week 2 of sap collection for us and we’ve collected about 60 gallons. We boiled this weekend and make our first gallon of maple syrup and it’s soooooo good! It is truly as good as it looks in your calendar pictures for February. I love the pic so much I haven’t had the heart to change the month! Sap is running crazy this week. Perfect weather. I should be able to collect 12-15 gallons a day which will make for another good boiling weekend!
    Thank you for inspiring my family to give this a try!

    Reply to Stone Soup's comment

  15. Sincerely, Emily on March 14, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Wow – that is a lot of sap, but what a great reward to have your own syrup! I think anything you make with it, I would be happy to eat. If I were doing the cooling it would pancakes or fresh toast. YUM!

    Reply to Sincerely, Emily's comment

  16. Eleanor on March 14, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    My favorite, favorite thing to use maple syrup for is French toast. I also love using it for glazing roasted squash…mmmm. Good luck with the maple vinegar. I love using it with cabbage and apple in a salad, with nuts.

    Reply to Eleanor's comment

  17. margaret on March 14, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    My mouth is watering. It’s a toss up between french toast and pancakes….

    Reply to margaret's comment

  18. trashmaster46 on March 14, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    Pumpkin pancakes and sausage, definitely. Or mixed through for maple bacon ice cream. I continue to be spectacularly envious of your homegrown maple syrup.

    Reply to trashmaster46's comment

  19. Lisa on March 14, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    So, for this Florida girl….if you don’t tap the trees, does it cause harm? Will they stop sugaring?

    Reply to Lisa's comment

    • Susy on March 15, 2011 at 8:08 am

      Tapping trees doesn’t cause harm. There are guidelines as to what sizes of trees you can tap and how many taps per tree based on size. The sap pretty much stops flowing when the weather reaches a certain point. When the days are above freezing the sap moves up into the branches, and at night when it dips below freezing the sap moves back down into the roots. This is what causes the sap flow. When the days are too cold the sap doesn’t flow and when the days warm up the sap flows to the top of the tree and quits moving back down.

      Generally the sap stops when the buds swell on the trees. We’re most likely going to remove our taps today as the weather has warmed enough and the buds are swelling. The trees will close up the holes where the taps were and sometimes the next year it’s hard to tell where the tap was (we don’t install a tap within a foot of last years tap).

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Lisa on March 15, 2011 at 11:18 pm

        Thank you! Something I didn’t know.

        to Lisa's comment

  20. […] also made wonderful french toast! Now all I need is some of the fresh maple syrup from Chiot’s Run.  That looks […]

    Reply to City Roots, Country Life » Blog Archive » Another Bread Recipe's comment

  21. Marcia on March 21, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    My family in Quebec owns a few Érablières starting with my grand-father 60 years ago so we`ve had maple syrup in all its forms. My favorite is a wonderful concoction called “pouding chomeur“. It`s a white cake on which you pour a maple syrup and water mix. As the cake bakes, the syrup sinks to the bottom and you end up with thickened goodness under your piece of cake. We also cook dumplings in a similar broth and call them grand-pères aux sirop d’Érable (maple syrup grand fathers). Probably because the dumplings look like white beards.

    Reply to Marcia's comment

  22. Carlie on April 7, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    I am super interested in tapping the five maple trees on our urban lot to make a little syrup for our household. I grew up making syrup so I’m not concerned about how to do it or intimidated by the process. I am however, wondering for a small scale operation with no sugar shack (such as ours) how insane is it to consider boiling sugar products down in my kitchen. Will I be wiping sticky sweet condensation off my kitchen walls and cupboards for years?

    Reply to Carlie's comment

    • Susy on April 7, 2011 at 8:17 pm

      Nope, just as long as you keep your kitchen exhaust fan on. I boiled a lot of mine down in the kitchen this year because we had tons of rain and no dedicated sugar shack (which we’ll hopefully be building soon). Another great alternative is to borrow one of those turkey fryer burners from someone – if you know someone that has one!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  23. Janet Anderson on October 10, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Wow – that is amazing, you make me want to go buy a property with sugar maples! I adore maple syrup on premium vanilla ice cream, on oatmeal and maple sugar on many, many things!

    Janet in Winnipeg, MB

    Reply to Janet Anderson's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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