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Monday, February 27, 2012

Sap is Running at Full Drip!

     Last night went to below frost and today the temperature hit 50 F easy.  Sure enough, the trees are running like crazy.  I have eight taps in trees down by the creek and usually go in the late afternoon to gather sap.  I bring a large 30 quart kettle with me so have to haul the day's take up to the house.  Today that kettle was full!  I had to stop several times to rest and give my arms a break.  But there it is now, boiling and bubbling away.  I'm thinking we'll get about 2/3 of a pint from this today's yield of sap.
     So far, there are two quarts of syrup in the refrigerator.  Maybe a little less than that, because we've been eating some.
     The first quart is a medium amber color, not quite as light as the first quart from 2011.  Maple syrup is graded by color and I'm wondering if I missed the golden amber opportunity of tapping this year.  The winter has been very mild and although January seemed like the right weather, it was still early by the calendar.  Whatever.  Back to syrup...  The lighter in color, the higher the grade.  The lightest is called Grade A.  They say that the lighter syrup is also sweeter, but I don't notice much of a difference in sweetness.  As the syrup gets darker, the flavor also gets stronger.  I happen to like a full flavor, really mapley tasting syrup with a bit of the wild in it. 
     It is time to stop tapping a tree when the tree buds and the buds start to crack open.  At that point the syrup has a little too much woody taste to it (it's called "buddy") and doesn't taste as good as a full flavor medium amber syrup.
     By the way, if you've been following this blog, the syrup that I had overcooked and had all that sugar in the bottom half of the jar was successfully reconstituted into syrup!  I spooned the sugar into the boiling sap last night.  It dissolved and this time I didn't boil it quite so long.  I still can't read that thermometer worth a tinker's damn though, and also wonder if it's giving me a true reading.  I'm still going by size and amount of bubbles for figuring when to take it off the stove.
     PS  Had steel ground oats with maple syrup and butter for breakfast.  Yo, Boomers - d'ya remember MAYPO?

     Here is a link that will help all you budding sugar people to predict maple sap flow.  It's very helpful.

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Comments on this blog are welcome. Ask questions, post your own experiences about the subject, post recipes, helpful tips, stories. Thanks! ~Bev