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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sugar Trees

                                             Summers Acres: The HomeAcre Hop
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.
Some locals are already scouting for homes this year.


  1. How neat to be able to make your own maple syrup! What a process for such a small amount but I agree it is worth it. Is that a little bluebird? So cute.

  2. Sandy: Yes, we have a family of bluebirds that hang around and nest here every year. One of my favorite birds!

  3. Oh, my never cease to amaze me :) Real honest to goodness maple syrup. Now we know why it is so expensive buy. Last Christmas we were given a very small(tiny) bottle of maple syrup and it was just enough to spoil us. Now I have to buy the real maple. We don't have it that often and besides there is no high fructose corn syrup.

    Your hat is awesome. I'm sure you'll enjoy wearing it and will get lots of compliments.

    What a welcomed sight, a bluebird. I'm waiting to see our first robin, a sure sign of spring around here, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to be patient with all the snow that is still on the ground.

    I'm going to think of you now everytime we have maple syrup...I can see you tapping, and boiling the syrup.
    Enjoy :)

  4. Maple syrup from your very own tree....awesome :)

  5. Who needs Vermont? Tennessee Maple Syrup ! I also had some Bluebird lookers on a warm day .Spring is just around the corner!

  6. As always, I love your posts. You make me want to plant some sugar maples...although I don't think I can wait 16 years for the process.

  7. I guess I can see now why pure maple syrup is so expensive in the stores. It does look tasty!

    I love the picture of the bluebird. I live in town, and have never seen one in my yard. I always see them when I visit each of my sis's-in-law, who both live in the country. Such sweet looking birds! :-)

  8. That does sound like a fun adventure. I have a friend that if from New York and every year after her visit, she brings me back a gallon of real maple syrup.
    I didn't realize the whole value of the gift she gives me.

    I am learning to knit and enjoyed seeing your hats.

  9. Is that the famous maple syrup? Woah! Till today I thought the only thing you could take out of a tree trunk was pinetree resin (what we have around here) and that was too sticky in my opinion. Lots of interesting things on your blog for me to learn! :-)
    Cute bluebird. I wish we had that beautiful bird in Europe!
    Take care.

  10. Oh my goodness!! It would thrill me so to process syrup! I'd be making pancakes galore. Ha! I'm an old soul in a not-so-old body who loves that sort of thing. I'm making plans for my garden and I can't wait to get dirt on my hands!! I've been watching the robins and bluebirds and look forward to the butterflies!!

  11. Your very own maple syrup, how wonderful!! I would love to spend a day with you and the family on the farm.:o) I have a feeling you all certainly have a lovely time there.:o)

    What a sweet blue bird, looks mighty comfy there perched on the tree. Looking out my studio window early last year sat a beautiful blue bird, something I don't get to see to often. Oh my what a beautiful bird it was. Another lovely post for sure.:o)

    Happy week to you dear friend.



  12. oh my goodness! That sounds like so much fun. You reminded me of the book Little House in The Big Woods. Cute background.

  13. Thank you for the comment on my blog. I did the same thing you did a few years ago. We have native maples in our yard and in the woods here. We tapped about 15 trees and I cooked it down on a small wood stove. My husband took the stove to a welder and had a rectangular hole cut into the top of it. I had a stainless steel pan that fit into the new hole and just fed the stove pieces of fire wood and we made some very tasty maple syrup also. Can't beat the real thing!

    I'm a native eastern Kentuckian, so we were nearly neighbors! Am enjoying your blog.

  14. Hello from Michigan, Wow, Making Maple Syrup, how exciting. Great Job. I loved seeing your Blue Bird, I am hoping we can attract them to our yard this summer. Hubby has been making bird house just for the. Hugs Judy

  15. Oh wow! How exciting for you. I'll bet it tasted devine!

    Harvest Lane Cottage

  16. thanks for sharing on Homestead Barn hop. Can't wait to tap my own trees this year!!

  17. Last year a blogging friend sent me some real maple syrup and it was ambrosia compared to what we have in the stores ! :)

  18. I learned a lot from your post. I never knew that the sap came out clear. Your hat is very pretty. You are so talented. Thanks for posting over at Farmgirl Friday..
    Dolly of

  19. Congratulations on making your own maple syrup, we live in Vermont where our neighbors have a maple sugar house. Thank you so much for sharing on the HomeAcre Hop, hope to see you again this week! - Nancy
    The HomeAcre Hop

  20. This is one of the things that I am wanted to learn and try. How exciting!

    I just wanted to stop by and let you know that your post will be featured at Thursday's The HomeAcre Hop. I will also tweet, facebook, and +1 your post. Please stop by and grab the featured button at:


  21. Oh wow!! Maple syrup!! I am envious :) I think it was worth it too! How did you end up eating that one pint? It would be so hard not to save it, just to stare at it! I like maple syrup drizzled over yogurt best! Thanks for linking up despite your busy schedule this week! :)


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