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Finishing up the Syrup

March 2nd, 2018

Sugaring season was a bit early this year, thankfully I got out and tapped the trees as soon as I did, it may not last much longer. The good thing about working from home is that I can be boiling sap while I work, the bad thing is that sometimes I get into a project and completely forget to check the sap every hour.

In the age of cellphones, I can now set my phone timer to remind me to check. As the syrup near completion, I check it every 15 minutes.

As it gets really close, it needs constant monitoring. Yesterday, I finished off 4 liters of syrup. That should be just enough for us for the year, we use a lot of maple syrup in cooking. If the sap keeps flowing, I’ll make more syrup for gifting and bartering.

What’s your favorite natural sweetener?

Celebrating Sweetness

March 26th, 2013

It’s no secret that Mr Chiots and I LOVE maple syrup. Typically we make our own, sugaring is one of our favorite activities. This year it wasn’t in the cards, with the move, travel and lots of work, we just didn’t have the time. Not to worry though, we got our fix of sugaring this past Sunday on Maine Maple Sunday.
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We visited two different sugar houses with our neighbors. One that usually makes around 80 gallons of syrup and one that makes around 600.   The difference in the two operations was amazing. Here is what maple sugaring is all about in Maine.
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Around here, maple syrup is our main sweetener. I use it in just about everything from pumpkin pie to hot cocoa.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy maple syrup?

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:

A Little Something Sweet

February 14th, 2011

Just in time for Valetine’s Day, the weather turned into perfect sugaring weather. Yesterday, the temps rose above freezing, so we tapped all of our maple trees. Just as we suspected, the sap started flowing.

Last year the season only lasted five days and we ended up with a little more than a gallon of syrup. This year we’re hoping that it lasts much longer so we can get several gallons of syrup to use throughout the year.

We’ll be spending our Valentine’s evening emptying sap buckets and starting to boil it down into sweet delicious maple syrup. Not the typical romantic fare, but right up our alley.

Do you do anything special for Valentine’s day?

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?

Reading & Watching

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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.