Sunday, April 7, 2013

Firing Up the Maple Syrup Still

This year I tapped seven trees.  In the past I've tapped as many as a dozen, but you can easily end up with more sap than you can boil. Seven 5 quart pails equals almost 9 gallons of sap as it is, and the pails easily fill on a good day.  I'm glad we saved these old Jilbert ice cream buckets before they went to 4-quart pails.

After hauling out 8 gallons of sap in two five gallon buckets I quickly smartened up and started using a 6 gallon carboy and my old pack basket.  It's a lot easier carrying a heavy pack than toting  heavy pails.

My sap boiler is so ugly that I'm considering entering it into a dog show.  It is an old steel plenum that was probably part of an air duct system,  a 20 quart stainless steel pot, some haywire, a repurposed license plate, some bricks, a wire grill and some metal flashing.

But it does the job.  I keep adding sap as it boils down until I've gone through one day's worth and have about an inch of concentrate at the bottom.  I then take it into the garage and finish it on a hot plate. 

Life is good.  Boiling the sap is a real pleasure.  The heavy lifting and hauling is done.  All that remains is to feed the fire and keep filling the pot as the sap boils down.  Occasionally you lean  over the pot to inhale a deep whiff of that lovely sweet maple steam.  Successful people pay money for stuff like that and call it aroma therapy, but maple steam will calm your nerves for free.  Do I look stressed out?

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