I have so much to say so let me begin with the current task of the season – Maple syrup making. I have come to appreciate the fact that I live in one of the few areas of the world that can produce maple syrup. In order to do so, you need two main things – the right kind of tree and the right kind of weather.
Granted, this year’s maple syrup production shadows in comparison to last year, which was one of the best years on record for the maple syrup industry here in Connecticut. With the brutally cold temperatures this year, the sap simply wont flow.
Here is a quick explanation of how it works:
Throughout the winter, maple trees store their sap in the roots. As the weather begins to warm, the tree will send the sap up from the roots, through the trunk and out to the limbs to “feed” the tree so it can begin to bud and produce leaves. When a tree is tapped, we are taking a small portion of the tree’s food. This is why it is SO important to NOT put too many taps in one tree… we don’t want to take too much of the tree’s food. The best sap comes from a Sugar maple. The Black maple is a very close second for good syrup production and in third place is the Red maple. You can identify what type of maple you have by closely examining the leaves and the bark of the tree. The best type of weather for sap collection is when the day time temperature goes above freezing but the night-time temperature still dips below freezing. In Connecticut, that usually begins to happen around the end of January/beginning of February thru April.
Since this year was more of an experiment to make sure I knew exactly what I was doing, I only put one tap in one tree.
I bought a 5/16″ drill bit and used a hand drill to drill a 1.5″ hole into the side of the maple tree. I made sure the hole was clear of all wood shavings and gentle pushed the spout into the tree and attached the tubing and just used a simple gallon milk jug to collect the sap.
As the tree produces the sap I collect it and boil it down on the stove:
So far, I have collected 15 jars and I have boiled them down to one jar.
As it boils, I skim of some of the foam that appears on top:
At this point, as the sap boils, it is beginning to look, smell and taste like maple syrup but I still have a way to go!
This weekend it is going up to the 50’s during the day which means the sap should be flowing! I’ll keep you posted! ;)