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Monday, February 13, 2012

Sugar Time!

     It's SUGAR TIME!

     This winter in central Pennsylvania has been unseasonably warm.  I wondered if I should have tapped the maple trees in January.  We had many days when the daytime hit over 50 and it went down to freezing at night.  That's prime maple tapping weather.  But I looked on the Internet to see if tapping trees in January was wise.  Normally we don't tap till mid February in Pennsylvania.  I found some information that made me put off tapping the trees.  What I found said that if we would have a cold spell trees tapped too early might start to heal over.  I didn't know if that was true or not.  A lot of stuff on the net is not.  But some is.  So I held off.  Just the same, yesterday our local paper ran an article about a man who said this was a banner year for sugar - maple sugar.  He started tapping in January.  I slapped down the paper and headed outside - drill in hand.  Tapware lined up.

     To tap a tree I use a hand drill with a 1/2" bit.  I drill into the maple tree about 3 feet up from the ground and at a slight upward angle.  This is so that the sap that runs out will run down.  I drill in about two inches.  I have some bonfide metal maple taps and a few plumbers' elbows from the hardware store.  Either type works.  Drill the hole and hammer in the tap. From the hardware store I have some plastic tubing that is then fit over the end of each tap.  This is directed into the empty water jug (a plastic gallon jug) that has been affixed to the tree with a nail and some pipe cleaner.  Twist ties will work but make sure they're sturdy.  A gallon of sap weighs a lot.
     I didn't think sap would run much today.  We had a cold snap.  But sure enough today I gathered up a gallon of sap from two maple trees.  One is a large sugar maple and the other is a red maple.  Any kind of maple tree will deliver sap but some types have more sugar than others. On the other hand, some of the maple trees bud later than others, so I guess it works out even in the end for how much syrup you get.
     The gallon of sap will only make a little bit of syrup.  So here's how I keep up with it.  I boiled the sap on the stove top while cooking dinner.  It took about two hours to boil down o where it had just started to take on a slight amber color.  The bubbles were also smaller than a full boil water bubble.  I let it cool.  Poured it off into a quart Mason jar, put a lid on it and stuck it in the refrigerator.  Tomorrow, I'll do the same.   

1 comment:

  1. Hah! Answered some of my questions before I asked them, as it turns out.


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