Monday, February 26, 2018

Harvest Monday - 26 February 2018

Once again we're crashing the Harvest Monday party with the only thing we "harvest" during the winter--maple syrup!

A period of warm(ish) days and cool nights stimulates the sugar maple (Acer saccharum) trees to start transporting sap up from their roots. The sap is not at all like pine sap, but really is water with +/- 1.5% sugar. The benchmark is 40:1 sap to finished product.

As has been the case in recent years, our warming period began in mid-February. On the 13th we placed the usual four taps in the large trees in front of the barn. I've described our small-scale process in detail in some older posts, so if you're interested you can look here, here, and here. Just 8 days later we had collected all the sap that we estimated we needed and removed the taps. The result was around two and a quarter quarts of light amber syrup, which The Kitchen Goddess canned in pint jars.

This is enough for our needs for the year. And, as always, the local high school's forestry students tap our "sugar bush" (maple grove) as they do in many other parts of town. This year we estimated they had 37 taps scattered around the property. They typically collect for a month, so if our 4 taps over eight days yielded a half-gallon, you can imagine what 37 for a month produces. At the end of the season they leave us a quart in payment--welcome, but not necessary. We enjoying having the "trespassers" in the woods. Too bad they have to hop a big stone wall carrying full buckets! But they're young.

Not only is there nothing like pure maple syrup on your pancakes and waffles, we get a kick out of doing it ourselves. Really all I do is drill some holes; TKG has the tedious job of tending the boil. I'm grateful!

Thanks for reading, and we will see you in the spring with green harvests! Thanks to Dave at Our Happy Acres for continuing to host Harvest Monday.


  1. That is such an exciting harvest! I do love maple syrup, and when I have steel cut oats for breakfast I always top it off with a little of the real stuff. If we had the trees you can bet I would do it too.

  2. Tapping the maples is one of those 'homestead/gardener' things I'll probably never get to do, and consequently I will always be envious of those who can. Of course... it's easy for me to say that. I'm sure I'd find it less romantic after standing over a hot boiling pot for hours!

    Do you cook with maple syrup at all? I grew up on the corn syrup maple stuff, because I didn't know better, but now buy and use the good stuff. A friend of mine recently made some sort of maple salmon... wow, very good. Since then I've been sniffing around for other good, tried and true, maple cooking recipes. If you have any, I'd love to pick your brain.

    1. No, I doubt you have many sugar maples in LA. We cook a lot with maple. Off the top of my head I thought of it as a glaze for roast pork. I asked TKG, and she rattled off: roast tomatoes or carrots (or any veg) with maple, add it to caramel, to whipped cream, dip fried chicken in it (YUM), use for ice cream, make a vinagrette.

    2. Oh wow, I've heard of using it with carrots but that's the only one on the list I'm familiar with. Tell the kitchen goddess thank you! :) I'm definitely going to experiment more with it this year ~

  3. Yum! We have a couple of maples on our property and a couple of years I checked to see if they were big enough to tap, but they still had a ways to go.