Goodman & I planted three sugar maple trees beside our house about 18 years ago, shortly after we bought our little farm. We knew it would be a long wait before they would be old enough to tap so we didn't expect to do that anytime soon. The trees have served us well shading the west side of our brick farmhouse from the afternoon and evening sun and providing homes for a lot of watchable birds every year that we've lived here. We've loved them just for those reasons until....A couple of weeks ago we noticed one of them had a lot of woodpeckers and a yellow-rumped warbler frequenting it constantly. The newer holes appear brownish in color. It was, also, dripping sap from an upper limb...really drippin'.
I consulted my Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery and found that the trees were just large enough to tap. And the sap was obviously runnin'. Eureka. O.O I was on the verge of an old-time adventure even if it was new to me. I immediately enlisted Goodman to bore the tap holes with his trusty drill....
He used a length of pvc pipe for the taps which were then pushed into the holes he drilled in the trees. Too bad the ones made by the woodpeckers weren't large enough. I gathered buckets to place below the taps and glass containers to store the sap in until I had enough to boil down. The ratio is 32 to 1. I needed a lot o' sap.
From three trees it took 2 1/2 days to collect about 12 gallons of sap. Next time I plan to tap the river maples on our property also as any maple tree may be tapped and the sap used for syrup. Sugar maple trees have the sweetest sap though. How fast the sap runs has a lot to do with chilly nights and warm days which were perfect. I used large canning jars, empty pickle jars, etc. and kept the sap in the fridge and some in our chilly basement until we could start a batch cookin'.
We built a fire in the firepit and started the process of boiling down the sap.
The sap is clear and only slightly sweet to the taste when fresh from the tree.It boiled for hours as we kept adding more of it to the sixteen quart pot. We finally took it off the fire after dark and brought the remaining 4 gallons of liquid into the house. It was late by this time so we went to bed asap.
I finished boiling it on the stove in the kitchen the next morning...
It cooked waaaaaaay down....
to just 1 pint and a bit extra that I put in a tiny jar for just tasting. It has a light buttery maple flavor which is just delicious. The result for several days of gathering and cookin'. Was it worth it? You better know it. A total thrill of a lifetime for this ol' homebody.
Knitting...I did another hat using the same pattern I used in my last post. I used some wool I'd bought at a flea market several years ago. This started out a tan color. I used Wilton's icing color to dye it a nice purple color.
This picture is dark, but truly the color shows about the same here as it is really dark purple.