In late winter we get our first harvest of the year...maple syrup!
|Maple syrup before canning|
I'm pretty sure those readers not in North America really don't know or understand what the fuss is about. Maybe Sunday morning pancakes or waffles are not part of the culinary tradition. But to us, it's a big deal! Those vile (my opinion) artificially "maple-flavored" sugar-based syrups (looking at you, Log Cabin/Aunt Jemima) pale in comparison to the rich yet delicate taste of pure, natural maple syrup.
The winter this year has been very strange. It warmed up in January and the sap started running. How did I know this? Broken twigs were dripping, which would freeze overnight into icicles. We tapped two of our Sugar Maple trees on February 12, two buckets per tree. We had a strong initial run, which shut down as the weather cooled again. The Kitchen Goddess did a boil of what we had collected so far. It started back up after a week or so. We took the last and pulled the taps on February 23. She then boiled down that batch. She will shortly can it into smaller jars.
From the above picture, you can see how the earlier batch (left) is much lighter. I can't really explain why. All I know is we got 2+ quarts, which will serve us well over the coming year. Whole Foods is selling pure "organic" maple syrup for ~$20 per quart, so this is a win for us. Yes, there are costs involved. We typically go through one tank of propane to boil it down, and this year it cost $17, up from $15 in the previous year. But still worth it.
That's of course the only harvest I can report at this time. I'll be back once the growing season progresses.
On a sad note, two weeks ago we said goodbye to our beloved, 19 year old calico kitty, Daisy. Her health had been on a rapid decline, and she had lost so much weight. Here's one of our last pictures of her, in her favorite location, in front of the warm wood stove.