Thursday, February 14, 2013

First Jar of Maple Syrup

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


Sherri B. said...

After seeing all that it takes to make that one jar, I will never complain about real maple syrup being expensive again!

Happy Valentines! xo

Unknown said...

O wow, that looks amazing! I don't think we can do that here in Scotland, but we can do birch sap syrup. I'd like to try my han on that one...

wildcraft diva said...

It sounds exhausting! But so special that you have mastered the technique. I'm sure it will get easier as you gain more experience.
When I first came to Italy it was difficult to find maple syrup, but now it's in all the supermarkets.

Comfrey Cottages said...

Sherri, yes, never ever complain about the price at the store...worth every dime and then some! lol!!

Eveline, I wish we have some birches to try this with also. I heard birch syrup is divine also. I hope you get a chance to try it!

WD, it is very labor intensive...the worst part for me is trying to keep the fire hot enough. I had to leave the door partially open to get a big draft going to create the flame needed.. talk about smoke inhalation! Ugh! That's cool you can find maple syrup at your supermarkets now :)

Anke said...

If everybody knew how much sap and work it takes to make real maple syrup, people would appreciate it a lot more. I bet your first batch is delicious!! :-)

Comfrey Cottages said...

Exactly Anke! And appreciate the price, which I consider very reasonable considering everything. Thanks for visiting, Anke xx

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Doing the happy dance for you, CC and now I'm off to take a nap, girlfriend. Great job, but it is exhausting just like some days when I'm making grape jelly! xxoo LVL

Comfrey Cottages said...

Thanks Nancy! xoxoox Yes, all good things, including your jellies, take time! xoxoxox

Marci said...

This is soooooooo awesome, Leslie! <3

Marci said...

This is soooooo AWESOME, Leslie! :-)

Comfrey Cottages said...

I am pretty psyched Marci! :) xx

Rita M said...

I never ever complain about the price again, I didn't know that there was so many sap needed to make just 1 jar. That's a lot of work. Enjoy it.
Big hugs XXXX

Comfrey Cottages said...

You are so right Rita! It is worth every dime!! love you! xxx

Shayne said...

wow it is that warm already in central illinois, here in southeast michigan the snow is still flowing and blowing. I don't make maple syrup anymore but this post brought back memories of sap cooking from my childhood. I loved this time of year, go into the woods and play all day and never have to come home for a drink because we would pull the milk jugs off the trees and wet our whistle then an there. IT WAS GREAT!

Comfrey Cottages said...

Thank you so much for visiting and taking the time to comment, Shayne. Popped over and looked around your wonderful foodie blog and got hungry:) We are quite a bit further South than you... I am near Peoria, IL. The weather was unseasonable warm and we all took advantage of it... getting paid back with a snow storm now, so the flow is on hold... LOVE your memory of drinking the sap right from the jugs when out playing! Thanks you for sharing that! :) xxx