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Prime Sugaring Weather

March 5th, 2010

As part of the Real Food Challenge over at Not Dabbling, we’re all posting about real Food today. Can you get any more real than homemade maple syrup???

Yesterday was the most beautiful day here in Ohio. It was sunny and warm (well 40 degrees which is warm this time of year). The morning was frosty, with temps down in the teens. All the sap that was flowing the day before had stopped and was frozen in the spiles. It didn’t take long for them to thaw out with the sun and warmth and start flowing again. These are prime sugaring temps; you want it to be above freezing during the day and below freezing at night. The rest of this week and next week look like it’s going to be beautiful, especially for sugaring.

At first we weren’t getting much sap so we saved it for about a week until we had 15-20 gallons. We stored it outside in big pots to keep it cool, since sap will spoil. The sap is flowing nicely now, so we’re keeping up with it by boiling constantly. Yesterday we collected 7 gallons of sap from our 20 taps. Mr Chiots heads out several times a day to collect sap since we don’t have big sap buckets that hold a lot.

We bring it inside and let it sit inside to warm up a bit. Then I strain it through a coffee filter into a big stock pot on the stove, this strains out any wood chips, sticks and any other dirt. We warm the sap in this stock pot and when it’s boiling we transfer it to big kettle that’s boiling outside. We do this to keep the big pot outside at a rolling boil, if you keep pouring cold sap into the boiling sap it will take longer to reduce into syrup.

At the moment we’re reducing the sap over a big propane burner by the garage. Our fire pit is buried in snow, as is all the firewood. If the sap starts flowing more rapidly with the warm weather we’re going to start reducing half of the sap over the fire and make kettle syrup.

I haven’t finished any syrup yet, I ran out of time last night. I plan on finishing our first batch today. I think we’ll end up with about a half a gallon from our first boil down.

Sugaring is the first signal of spring for me, it begins the outdoor work. Soon enough I’ll be spending the crisp days building rock walls and hopefully making some new garden space.

What’s your first outdoor activity in the spring?

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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.