As a sure sign of spring in these parts, we have concluded our 2016 maple syrup harvest. On February 15, at the start of a warming stretch, we set out our typical four taps, one each in the four big sugar maples by the barn. On Saturday the 27th we judged we had enough for our needs, and pulled the taps. For major producers, the season is actually just getting into high gear.
In that 12-day period there were two "runs" of sap. The first yielded about 10 gallons, which boiled down to roughly 1 1/2 quarts of Grade A Golden. Then we had a cold spell, which shuts down the flow. It resumed on the 23rd, This second run yielded another 10 gallons, which became roughly 1 1/4 quarts of Grade A Amber. Here you can see the results of the two runs, and the sharp difference in color. Naturally, the darker the syrup the more intense the flavor.
|Left two, Golden, right two, Amber. Both Grade "A."|
Here's a link to the new grading standards that most producing regions are now employing.
I've written about how we do this on a small scale here, here, and here.
The Kitchen Goddess did most of the work, of course, while I sat around in my bathrobe offering helpful criticisms. Naturally, I always thank the trees for their service:
|Genuine Tree Hugger|
The local high school has yet to set their taps in our "sugar bush" (quaint term for maple grove) down the hill, but they probably will start any day. Last year they gave us a quart in payment, which we have just now broken into, having used up our own production.
Needless to say, we love having our own syrup on pancakes and waffles made with our own cornmeal. Yes, there are some costs involved. Propane for the boiler cost $15 this year (the rest of the equipment we bought in past years). But it is so worth it. Driving around, I see more and more people clearly making their own on a small scale, which is heart-warming.
As I've said in the past, many people either prefer the "maple-flavored" corn syrup found in "Log Cabin" or "Aunt Jemima" brands, or have never tasted the pure stuff. But such heresy will get you ostracized here in New England.
That's it for now. Thanks for reading, and thanks to Dave at Our Happy Acres for hosting Harvest Monday.