Today we had another adventure on the farm. Yes, we’re full steam ahead again. I suppose you could say it started yesterday. Mathew started boiling down and stayed up all night and all day adding wood to the fire and sap to the pan. After emptying our storage container we stopped around 3pm Thursday and started filling up our bulk tank again with the sap from our two 50 gallon barrels. Then we took those two barrels out to the woods again. It was a beautiful March day at 53 Fahrenheit. After taking a quick look at our new goat babies, we drove through the pasture and to the woods on the other side. Just as the first barrel was filled, a strong wind blew, the temperature dropped about ten degrees within minutes (I’m serious. It got cold quick!), and the rain and sleet started to fall. We were soaked once the second barrel was full. It took about twenty minutes to fill the first barrel and only fifteen for the second since we were cold and hasty. I’m so glad I had prepared a snack at home. Being cold and wet made the rewards waiting for us so much better. I had made some chocolate zucchini cake with maple syrup instead of sugar and promised to mix up some homemade maple hot cocoa. What a treat!
This is our fourth year harvesting maple syrup and our fourth improvement in our sapping system. Hopefully you can see the pictures explaining our processes. Here’s a more detailed idea of how we get the sweet sticky maple syrup:
- Each fall we put aside a big pile of wood to have for burning in the spring.
- Once the weather starts a freeze thaw cycle,
- we start cleaning our equipment,
- assemble our bags and pvc holder setup with zipstrips,
- and start tapping trees.
- After all the taps are in, we’ll put up the bags and fasten them to the trees with a card clip (as shown above)
- As the saps starts to flow, we’ll collect it and wait to have a full bulk tank (about 275 gallons sap) – 40 gallons of sap will make about 1 gallon of syrup
- Then we’ll start the fire, get the sap boiling and keep it there until we’re satisfied or until we run out of time
- Then we usually enjoy some of our harvest on ice cream or in some of our other favorite recipes, such as maple mustard chicken or granola bars!
Here’s a new recipe we made up today:
Homemade Maple Syrup Hot Cocoa
3 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
3 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups milk
Blend all the ingredients together with a whisk or in a blender. Heat in a saucepan. Ladle into cups. Enjoy!