Friday, March 4, 2016

EXTREMELY small Batch Maple Syrup Making

I shared a picture from last week's tap setting, and now I have the rest of the story.

Sam has been learning all he can about maple syrup making in Wisconsin so he can write the winning essay for the Ag in the Classroom essay contest.  I don't know of any better way to learn than to jump in and learn as we go.  Here's a picture diary of the process.

Drilling for the first tap.

Setting the tap.

We're in business!

Running to the next Maple tree.

Little brothers helping?  getting in the way?

Now we wait for the first few drops of spring tonic.
Our sap running weather was very short and we only put out two taps, so not much sap before the cold weather set in again.  We got 2.5 gallons of sap and did a quick calculation:

                                                                1 gallon syrup            x
                                                               -------------------   =  ---------------
                                                               40 gallons sap          2.5 gallons sap

                                                                                         x  =  .0625 gallons

One more proportion to convert gallons to cups and we should yield a whopping 1 cup of pure maple syrup.  Let's see what happened.

We strained out bits of bark from the sap.

We assessed the strainings and felt slightly guilty for using a $1.59 filter for this tiny amount of sap.

This is a costly way of cooking down sap, but for our first time and such a small amount of  sap, and I couldn't spend a lot of time outside boiling with Sam, it worked best to have him close to the house in case he had questions or needed me.

Once it started boiling, Sam was sure it would only take a few minutes.  He was in for a surprise when after 30 minutes he was still hunched over the pot.  He must have realized he was going to be there a while because at one point I looked out and saw him dragging a lawn chair to his watch spot.  He stirred and checked the thermometer and stirred some more.  It cooked down so low that the thermometer wouldn't even reach.  Even funnier is we didn't even have enough syrup to check it's density using the hydrometer.  Finally it was time to finish it in the house in a wee sized kettle.
 And here you have it!  Our first taste of our own maple syrup.  Almost 1 full cup.

And for the record, it tasted so good on homemade waffles this morning.
Daytime temps are moderating again; the buckets are out again!

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  1. That is soooo cool. Here in New Zealand I've only read about maple syrup making in the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. To make your own is fantastic. Funny story - my husband and two older boys went to Canada for the World Sport Stacking Champs in April 2015 and wanted to bring back some genuine Canadian maple syrup for me. They forgot to put it in their checked luggage and weren't allowed to take it in their cabin luggage so they had to leave it at the Air Canada check in. They didn't want to disappoint me so in Los Angeles Airport they bought two small bottles of US MADE maple syrup. That's probably akin to eating a Hangi (NZ Maori style of cooking) laid down by an Australian!
    Love your blog - we are a homeschooling family of nine children and dear nuumber nine has Down Syndrome (he's 18 mths old)so I came across your blog as I was mulling over Michael's future education. You are an inspiration.

    1. Welcome! And thank you for your kind words. I love the maple syrup story. Homeschooling a child with Down syndrome is a challenge and I aim to give tips and encouragement to parents wanting to embark upon this wild ride.


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