When I started pulling 6 gallons off the trees within a couple of hours, I thought the first round of cooking, to evaporate the sap down to maple syrup, better get started.
It was nice enough out I was afraid the bees would be attracted to the milk jugs full of sap on the trees and the evaporating pan, so I put out a diversionary honey frame from last years honey super I pulled. This one wasn’t completely filled and capped yet, so perfect! Lots of cells filled with nectar for them.
I noticed the elderberry leaves were in bud
Got a good hot fire started in the stove and poured sap into the evaporator and then spent the next few hours feeding the flame and watching the steam come out of the pan. The pot in the back is used to pre-warm the sap that is waiting to be added to the evaporation pan as it’s level lowers.
I had to check with my candy thermometer what temperature water was boiling at. It doesn’t always boil at 212 degrees. When I found that temperature I was suppose to add 7.1 degrees to that figure, to find the temperature the evaporated sap would be at the correct stage to have turned to syrup.
That is a strainer covered in cheesecloth on the left and my dipper to transfer from pre-warming pot to evaporation pan.
I had to keep adding lots of wood to the fire to keep it roaring hot. Unlike a home heating wood stove, where you can get your fire going good, close the door and just periodically add wood, the fire needed for this had to be roaring hot constantly, with the door opened a little for the extra air needed to sustain such a fire.
I started out with about 10 gallons of sap and cooked it outside for 5 hours. Today, I brought it inside for the finishing off, the actually syrup making. I am using the two pot method again, with one pot extra hot for the syrup making and the back pot to transfer from. I have my stove vent on too, so all that sticky evaporated moisture doesn’t get on everything!
I was nervous about knowing exactly when it was evaporated enough to be called syrup. In my book it said that the bubbles change, coming together and rise up. Then, if you dip a metal spatula in it and the liquid comes off in a sheet, not drips like it would if you dipped it in water, then it is time to bottle it. I kept checking with the spatula, and suddenly.. it was perfect! I boiled it a minute or two more and then strained it to remove any impurities such as tiny pieces of bark or wood ash that floated in from the stove pipe on the wood stove.
And for all that time and effort I got this…
One totally delicious, wild foraged, and homemade jar of pure maple syrup! lol! I knew this first batch wouldn’t make much, but I was so excited to get started I went for it anyway! I have about 30 gallons waiting to be processed this weekend and.. the season lasts about 6 weeks so I anticipate more to come!
Sending out a special Valentine shout out to my ever patient, ever helpful Honey Hubby! He always supports and helps out with my new adventures like a real trooper!
Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx