We did it! We made one of the most delicious delicacies in the world! We made maple syrup from our very own trees with our very own hands. It was on our “Life List”, you know that list of things in your head that you must do before you pass beyond?
We really didn’t premeditate this caper. I noticed that a local blogger said they were putting taps out, so the Piper and I skedaddled off to the Tractor Supply and bought 6 spiles. Isn’t “spiles” just a cool word? Fun to say and you learned one of the maple sugarer insider words!
We fetched the cordless drill and drilled a 7/16ths hole about three feet off the ground and at a slight upward angle. We scrounged for buckets and milk jugs to catch the running sap, and waited, and waited…
The next morning we checked our collection buckets and were thrilled to get a cup of maple sap. It was crystal clear with only a faint tingle of a possibility, of the coming sweetness. Later that day, we glanced out at the tree line, and noticed that a gallon milk jug was over flowing with sap! The magic catalyst was the sun! You need freezing night temperatures and warming day temperatures
We used the Rocket stove for this first day. I thought it was so poetic to boil the sap with the cast off branches of the magnificent oaks and maples on the property…I learned several things that day. One that you had to tend that fire every 10 minutes. Two- it was barely 40 degrees outside . And three- it takes a really loooooongtime to boil 10 gallons of sap into one quart of syrup. So, we worked on that syrup for ten hours, then put it to bed for the night in the garage with foil over it. The next day the Piper set up the propane burner and things went much quicker. By afternoon we had our first syrup-and it was GOOD! Really!
We made 3 batches of syrup this year, not quite a gallon. I did water bath can the jars of syrup for 15 minutes to help prevent mold and icky stuff. And we have been enjoying the fruits of our labor over pancakes, waffles, French toast and in baked beans, bread, martinis, and salad dressing. The piper and Thing #2 (our daughter) even used the last of the sap to brew some beer-then used the syrup to carbonate the batch.
Here is a quick and unusual recipe for Maple Syrup Vinaigrette
- 3 TBSP Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 TBSP Maple Syrup
- 1 TBSP Whole Grain Mustard
- Crushed Garlic to Taste
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
- Just whisk all these good things together and pour over your salad. As always, my recipes are "More of a guideline,than actual rules" (Pirates of the Caribbean, Curse of the Black Pearl) Taste as you go, and adjust to you own preferences.