We’re having a warm spell today so the sap is starting to run in the sugar maples again.
I heard on NPR two weeks ago that one 140-year old farm in Vermont started maple syrup collection on January 31st. This was the earliest in the farm’s entire history.
We are having such a mild winter this year. It is strange.
Ron put four taps in two of our trees in early February. We got about 2/3 of a quart of syrup then, but winter returned so the taps have been frozen since then. The sap is starting to run again with this warm-up. Ron collected about 4 gallons of sap this morning and we expect more the rest of the day and tomorrow.
Keep in mind that it takes, as I recall, about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. That means a lot of boiling down.
Ron processed this first small batch of syrup, in part, on the bon fire outside. He boiled down the sap in a large, second-hand pot until it was about 1/3 of the original quantity outside. Then he transferred it into a smaller pot on the spare used stove in the garage that we had while we were living there. The final reduction took place in our usual stock pot in the house.
A lot of pots and pans, and steps, but it meant that less water was released in the house. Sap reduction can be risky if you have humidity issues in a house–or wallpaper. We have neither, but our usual stock pot doesn’t hold that much sap either.
The other advantage of reducing the sap over the open fire is that the syrup has more of a smoky flavor. I had never really thought about it before. But maple syrup does often taste a bit smoky. It makes sense once you think about sugar shacks and wood-based fires.
The first 2/3 quart of maple syrup is in the fridge. It’s more concentrated and smokier than last year’s syrup. Ron is not sure if he’ll do the bonfire approach again this winter. It is a bit of a pain monitoring and feeding the bonfire for most of the day. But it does make for yummy maple syrup.