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The Cycle Begins Again

February 8th, 2012

The weather seemed perfect on Sunday afternoon, so we decided it was time to tap our maple trees. Out came all the supplies, the spiles and jars were scrubbed, the extension cords were brought out and the first tree was tapped.

As soon as the hole was drilled sap was running down the side of the tree before we could even get the spile in. Thirty taps later and we were done. That evening we collected five and a half gallons of sap and so the cycle of collecting and boiling has begun again.

Last year was a long sugaring season and we got 5 gallons of finished syrup. This year we tapped more trees because we think the season will be short, which is the usual here in our area of Ohio. In total we have 30 taps going and are hoping to get a few gallons of syrup once again.

The little black garage cat (aka “The Sweets”) loves it when sugaring season rolls around. Just like her mama used to do, she followed us around the woods as we tapped trees and she runs ahead of Mr Chiots on the paths when he collects the sap. No doubt she’s enjoying some human companionship after a long lonely winter in the garage.

Our maple syrup is precious and since we use it as almost our only form of sweetener, we use it sparingly throughout the year. We’re always happy to reach the next cycle with a few jars of syrup left in the pantry. When I checked last week we still had almost 2 gallons left.

What’s your favorite way to use maple syrup?

If you want to read up on maple sugaring I’d highly recommend these books:

24 Comments to “The Cycle Begins Again”
  1. Joan on February 8, 2012 at 6:36 am

    Yum! You’ve almost convinced me to try sugaring again. Boiling it down is the problem… Can’t do it in the house, and I’m not home enough to keep an outdoor fire going. And since we mostly have red maples not sugar maples, I need to collect a LOT more sap, or tap it at other people’s houses (which I’ve done before)… Yup, I’m talking myself out of it. Sure would be nice to have all that syrup though!

    Reply to Joan's comment

    • Jennifer Fisk on February 8, 2012 at 7:40 am

      One thing you can do to shorten your boiling time is to freeze your sap. The water will freeze leaving the sugar to boil.

      Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

    • Susy on February 8, 2012 at 9:51 am

      We have red maples here too. You can store the sap and boil on the weekends as well if possible. Ours is stored in bit pots on the back porch.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  2. Andrea Duke on February 8, 2012 at 6:38 am

    This is definitly on my to-do list next year.
    Your sugaring pictures are also my favorite in your calendar :)

    Reply to Andrea Duke's comment

  3. KimH on February 8, 2012 at 6:56 am

    I dont think I have a favorite way to enjoy maple syrup.. I like them all.

    Reply to KimH's comment

  4. Stone Soup on February 8, 2012 at 6:56 am

    Was thinking the same thing today, time to get the stuff out! We’ve had some pleasant days in the 30’s and cold nights. Perfect for running sap. I am with you on the sap season, I think this year might be short, since last year was terrifically long! Now that I’m thinking of syrup, I should probably make some pumpkin pancakes. I just roasted a pumpkin yesterday and that would be delicious!

    Reply to Stone Soup's comment

  5. Mich on February 8, 2012 at 7:22 am

    Living in England I find the idea of tapping trees & producing your own maple syrup fabulous! :)
    I admit I dont buy alot of maple syrup as the ‘nice’ stuff is rather expensive..but do love it with homemade pancakes & ice cream. yum.

    Reply to Mich's comment

  6. Jennifer Fisk on February 8, 2012 at 7:42 am

    I enjoy Maple Syrup on hot cereal and over vanilla ice cream. Of course it is wonderful on pancakes and waffles too.

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

  7. Kathi Cook on February 8, 2012 at 7:44 am

    Over oatmeal, and plain yogurt. I also like it as a glaze on salmon. I can always find local syup around here,but it must be great to make your own. Do you ever make maple sugar out of your syrup?

    Reply to Kathi Cook's comment

    • Susy on February 8, 2012 at 9:52 am

      I haven’t made maple sugar yet, I keep wanting to try but never want to risk losing any of our syrup. Someday I will though as I find the idea intriguing!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  8. Allison on February 8, 2012 at 8:39 am

    Maple Syrup is a hot commodity at our house too. I like to use it to sweeten yogurt!

    Reply to Allison's comment

  9. K.B. on February 8, 2012 at 10:17 am

    I don’t have any trees to tap, but I’m lucky enough to have a local sugar bush where I get my syrup – and they offer the different grades as well. I LOVE the darker grades, especially for baking. But my favourite use? On my morning oatmeal :)

    Reply to K.B.'s comment

  10. Brittany P. on February 8, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    I am sooo jealous! I wish we could tap sugar maples here. ALAS! Wishing you the best and wonderful flowing goodness. I saw your little snowdrop. So small, so cute. Our hyacinths and irises are up.

    Reply to Brittany P.'s comment

  11. Brittany P. on February 8, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Have you seen the new cookbook by Marie W. Lawrence called The Farmers Cookbook??? Got it, LOVE it!!!

    Reply to Brittany P.'s comment

  12. Rhonda on February 8, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    I like to put maple syrup on cornmeal mush that’s been fried in bacon fat. YUM

    Reply to Rhonda's comment

    • Susy on February 8, 2012 at 3:55 pm

      MMMM, it’s been far too long since I’ve had cornmeal mush – must make some. I too love it fried up crispy and smothered in butter & maple syrup!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  13. t on February 8, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    So awesome.
    we just did this yesterday…and sure glad we did as it is snowing today

    I am writing about it tomorrow.
    excited to read about your experience here.

    Reply to t's comment

  14. Sincerely, Emily on February 8, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    I imagine there is a feeling of spring when you begin this process. Hope of warmer days. Hope of longer days. Sort of a sign of a new season coming.

    Reply to Sincerely, Emily's comment

  15. B ryan N. on February 8, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    We usually make around 8 gallons every year my girls love maple sugar candy and can’t wait for it to come out of the molds.We put out 20 taps and will probably put out about that many more when time allows.I also think it will be a short year as this winter has been so mild and alot of trees have buds already.I have never started this early it is usually mid March at the earliest.

    Reply to B ryan N.'s comment

  16. daisy on February 8, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    How cool is that?!! We love maple syrup, or as we call it, maple syrple.
    I love it in baked goods and on waffles! Enjoy your harvest!

    Reply to daisy's comment

  17. Ashley Winters on February 9, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    So this is something anyone could do. I could start an organic farm of maple syrup with the maple trees in my yard? Seems simple enough even if I only get enough for my family. How exciting. I am now on a mission. Thanks.

    Reply to Ashley Winters's comment

  18. Sofie Dittmann on February 9, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    We used to get our maple syrup at Local Roots by the gallon, but lately have only been able to find itsy-bitsy bottles – not worth the expense. I wish we had woods to tap. Just today I talked to our Amish farmer, hopefully they are interested in selling us some!

    Reply to Sofie Dittmann's comment

  19. Gail on February 10, 2012 at 6:08 am

    Totally off the topic of maple syrup :) when you move will you take all your cats?

    Reply to Gail's comment

  20. Kate on February 13, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    LOVE the darker grades, especially for baking. I don’t have any trees to tap, but I’m lucky enough to have a local sugar bush where I get my syrup – and they offer the different grades as well.

    Reply to Kate'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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