Monday, March 24, 2008

It's Sugarin' Time

This is our third season tapping the trees right around our house. They are sap cows--maple trees with a full canopy that provide lots of sap. Unfortunately, they are not sugar maples. They are some sort of soft maple with a lower sugar content. But since we are only boilin' for our own use, it's not terribly important to have sugar maples. Or the right set-up.

We did purchase spiles (spouts for you laymen) to tap the trees with, and specially fitted hooks. But from there on, it's all make-do.

Plastic pails from who-knows-where. (Yes, we do bleach and clean them at the beginning of each year, but somehow I doubt they're food-grade. Oh well.)

A stainless steel warming pan.

A thermometer, borrowed from the composting operation. (Don't think about it too much. After all that boiling, everything's sterilized.)

Some felted wool, to strain the last little chewies out of the finished syrup.

And canning jars and lids, to preserve the finished product.

I'm sure it isn't at all efficient to produce maple syrup in this way. And the humidity in the house would peel the wallpaper right off the walls, if we had any. But we've learned a bit about the process and we like the syrup! We understand now why maple syrup is so expensive! It's truly a labor of love.

If anyone knows of any old maple sugarin' equipment that's languishing somewhere unused, please let us know.


  1. That looks really neat, I follow another blogger and she does the maple sugar syrup. Check it out maybe you'll pick up an easier way to go about it. Please show up the end results, I bet it's great on pancakes, oh I'm making myself hungry!! teehee..

  2. My FIL has done this with some trees around the farm for a few years. I boiled some of it once and that was enough. Now they boil it w/ their turkey cooker (never used for frying!) and have that in the garage.

    I think I damaged the finish on my cabinets over my stove from all the steam!

    DS likes the syrup and he is the only one left still allowed to eat it, so Gma gave him a pint jar.

    Last spring I taught at a craft type day and the main speaker shared about their maple syrup operation. Quite fascinating! I wish I had that info to share with you but don't have it around anymore.

    Great photos!

  3. This is really something we'd really love to be able to do. We'll have to settle for honey, though, as we are short on maples. Our family loved reading about "sugarin'" in the Little House books.

    I also wanted to thank you for the info on bloat. I knew that oil helped, but I couldn't get them to take it. I didn't know that you had to force it with a syringe. Thanks! Next time I'll know. There is just so much to learn, isn't there? They do seem to be all better now.

    I enjoyed your count of new lambs for the year! Looks like you have quite a busy farm!

  4. Very cool Lona! One of the absolute best field trips we ever went on was to a maple sugar/syrup operation at a state park not too far from here (Kensington in case you've heard of it - it's about an hour west of us on 96). It was great, great, great. We got to choose a tree and put in a spile, and collect buckets from other trees. Made me respect all those indians and pioneers who did it themselves for so many years. Definitely a lot of work. But soooo good!!

  5. How fun! My favorite thing as a kid was maple sugar candy. I have fond memories of my favorite aunt taking me to the local candy store to buy some.



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