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First maple syrup!

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Project by daltxguy posted 402 days ago 1276 views 0 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Elixir of the gods!
A miracle of nature.
Nothing is as magical as making maple syrup out of maple sap!

First 4 gallons boiled down to 350ml of syrup ( whatever that is in ounces – 11?)

This is the first sap from the trees and a mixture of red maple and sugar maple. The first sap is usually high in sugar content and boils to a very light color. So called grade A light or medium amber or Canada #1 extra light or light, depending on which grading method you use.

You’ll notice in the pictures that I tried a crazy thing by setting up a computer fan to blow across the pot. I found that this sped up the evaporation. Maybe it’s not so crazy – I’m sure I’m not the first to have thought of it!

Some observations and lessons learned:
  • It takes forever with amateur gear – this batch took about 10 or 11 hours. About 2/3 outside and last 1/3 inside due to rain.
  • Smells wonderful when you are finishing the batch inside!
  • Watch the last steps carefully – it’s done when it starts to stick to the spoon and begins to froth up – careful not to have it boil over (it’s officially done when 7.4F above boiling or 4.1C above boiling or when sugar content is at least 66% but observation seems just as good)
  • Filtering is important to get ‘sugar sand’ – precipitates from the boiling process – out of the syrup . I did this twice
  • Bottle after reheating to 180 to 200F (80-90C) but don’t get too hot otherwise you’ll get more precipitate
  • big flat pans would speed things up – evaporation = btu + surface area
  • I started with 4 gallons in a pot but most suggest starting in a small pan and keep adding and adding as it boils away – this seems like it might be a better idea but not sure if it is really faster

-- Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves. - Thoreau



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daltxguy

882 posts in 1568 days
hardiness zone 4a

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maple syrup maple preserving perennial zone 5

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24 comments so far

View justjoel's profile

justjoel

1042 posts in 1851 days
hardiness zone 7a

posted 402 days ago

Congrats! Makes me want to make French Toast for breakfast tomorrow!

-- "We are stardust. We are golden. And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden." Joni Mitchell

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14620 posts in 2470 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 402 days ago

how wonderful
Having done the process I imagine that you know why it is considered “gold” >>> the work put into it plus the end result: priceless

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View Vince Kirchner's profile

Vince Kirchner

192 posts in 1259 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 401 days ago

Great job, you have learned a lot on this little project. Now if I could only get the city to let me access their trees. Hhhmmmm!

-- If you wouldn't spray it in your mouth, why would you spray it on your food?

View sharad's profile

sharad

1608 posts in 1687 days
hardiness zone 11

posted 401 days ago

Fantastic, I never thought that the process is so involved. Thanks for the nice pictures.

Sharad

-- Bagwan-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

View ChuckV's profile

ChuckV

24 posts in 1732 days

posted 401 days ago

Steve,

That is great! Congratulations on your first success. I look forward to watching you scale up your operation.

- Chuck

-- "...and the flowers bloom like madness in the spring."

View daltxguy's profile

daltxguy

882 posts in 1568 days
hardiness zone 4a

posted 401 days ago

Sharad – the native american stories about how maple syrup came to be, goes something like this (highly simplified versions).
There are two versions

Version 1 – the legend – this explains why it has become so involved! ( taken from here )

There is a common myth, with many tribal variations, that the Creator originally made life too easy for his People, with maple trees having a syrup that flowed year round. One day, Glooskap (this name has many variations) arrived at a village and found it strangely quiet. No children or dogs came to greet him, the gardens were over grown with weeds, and the cooking fires were dead. He found the villagers lying in the maple grove, with the delicious sap running into their mouths from the trees.

Glooskap had special powers. Using a birch bark bucket, filled with water from lake, he rose above the trees and filled the trees with water until the sap ran thin. Then he encouraged his People of the village with a fiery speech. In this exhortation, he berated them for being lazy, and said as punishment the Creator was going to have the sap run only in the late winter. But, he urged them to take heed that when this happened, they would still be able to enjoy this special sweet, though only at this special time of year.

Version 2 – perhaps more likely ( taken from here )

One day in early spring, an Indian chief came home from a long day of hunting and stuck his tomahawk in one of the trees outside his longhouse, as he did every night. Now being that maple trees are very abundant in his area, this happened to be a maple.

The next morning the chief woke and left for another hunt, taking his tomahawk from the tree. It just happened that there was a bowl sitting at the base of this tree, directly under the gash made by the chief’s tomahawk. As the warm spring sun shone on the maple tree, the sap began to run out of the gash, down the trunk, and dripped into the bowl. As evening approached, the chief’s daughter began to prepare dinner. She needed a pail of water to boil dinner in though. As she walked past the tree on her way down to the creek, she noticed the bowl full of “water” sitting by the tree. Rather than walk all the way to the creek, the chief’s daughter decided to use this “water.” As the dinner boiled, the “water” boiled away, and by the time dinner was done, the “water”, which was actually maple sap, had boiled down to the first maple syrup. With a little experimenting, the chief and his daughter discovered how and when to make this new all natural sweetener. From that point on, maple syrup became an important part of the Native American’s diet.

-- Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves. - Thoreau

View jroot's profile

jroot

4986 posts in 2100 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 400 days ago

We used to make it here in Rockwood, ON when we were first married. We tapped the maples on the property and then boiled it down. What a sticky mess the kitchen became! LOL.

The second year I built an outdoor fireplace for the primary evaporation, but finished it indoors. My wife put her foot down and declared the kitchen out of bounds as another sticky mess occurred in spite of overhead fans. It was fun doing it while it lasted though.

After considering the actual costs of making it, we searched out a fine mennonite chap in St Jacobs who does all the work for us at a lesser cost and has a wonderful maple syrup for our use. We use about 2 gallons a year with the baking I do.

Where we live now, there are no maples to be found, just cedars. I don’t think cedar syrup would be too tasty. LOL

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

View Iris43's profile

Iris43

3761 posts in 2100 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 400 days ago

The maple syrup in your jar looks delicious…and I have no doubt it will taste as good as it looks, Daltxguy. You are very brave and ambitious to tackle this project.

I remember my family doing this when I was a child….and I remember the taste. This year my grandaughter and her b’friend are making syrup. He lives on a farm and I understand there is a good stand of Maple trees. I would show you pics of their set-up if I can get some of her pics from FB. I’ll try and come back with them.

-- 'To plant a Garden is to believe in Tomorrow'

View Iris43's profile

Iris43

3761 posts in 2100 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 400 days ago

The first pic is Kyle building up the fire..
 photo 598945_4531796608259_1981267715_n1_zpsfc20879f.jpg

As you can see, they appear to have done this bf with an evaporating pan for the sap….

 photo 417680_4531797968293_449647620_n1_zps2480d3ae.jpg
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 photo 522736_4531803248425_311606259_n1_zps89d26939.jpg

-- 'To plant a Garden is to believe in Tomorrow'

View daltxguy's profile

daltxguy

882 posts in 1568 days
hardiness zone 4a

posted 400 days ago

Fantastic, Iris! Better infrastructure than me – I have a ways to go yet – maybe by next year I’ll have some of this in place. Thanks for posting these pics

-- Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves. - Thoreau

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4251 posts in 1733 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 391 days ago

Congratulations on your first batch of syrup, Daltxguy and thank you for the stories and photos. Enjoy the sweetness!

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View Greenthumb's profile

Greenthumb

2223 posts in 2290 days

posted 389 days ago

Oh the memories

Oh the memories

Thank you

-- just one more rock, and the garden is done ; )

View daltxguy's profile

daltxguy

882 posts in 1568 days
hardiness zone 4a

posted 369 days ago

Collected 100+ litres of sap (about 30 gallons) on Monday – before the rain and before the snow and then, using stove iteration #4 (much improved), I boiled this down to nearly 8 litres of syrup (about 2 gallons).
Phew!
That’s it for the season. I’m pulling the taps. Red maples are budding (despite the 15cm of snow we just got) and temps will be all pluses later this week, pretty much ending the season anyway.

Bumper year ( even though I have nothing to compare to!) but I definitely got my 3 gallons+ of syrup from 10 taps. I think that’s more than you should be getting. The sap seemed to have a high sugar content ( though I didn’t measure ) as I got better than 40:1 ratios.

-- Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves. - Thoreau

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14620 posts in 2470 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 369 days ago

that is WONDERFUL. You must be very proud and very excited about the success.

Perhaps if we have a get-together we could all get a “lick” of the delicacy! (big grin)

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View jroot's profile

jroot

4986 posts in 2100 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 368 days ago

Great sap farming going on there, Daltxguy. I usually buy two gallons a year, as some of my best oringal recipes call for maple syrup instead of sugar. Today, I am making a maple pecan pie for guests.

How much is maple syrup going for in your area? Yesterday, at St Jacobs market, they were asking for $45 a gallon, although one chap was willing to negotiate on the price a little.

Interesting that the sugar content is so high. I wonder if last summer’s dry spells had anything to do with that.

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

View daltxguy's profile

daltxguy

882 posts in 1568 days
hardiness zone 4a

posted 368 days ago

MsDeb – I’m quite pleased with how it has turned out. As this has been my first venture into maple syrup making, my main observation is that it is super easy – easier than growing a garden, since nature does the gardening for you and all I have to do is harvest and process. I wonder why even more of it is not being harvested.

On the processing side, since this is a craft which has been done for 1000’s of years – it is easy to do even using the most basic of equipment.

It’s been absolutely fascinating to experience the process – it’s pure magic!

jroot – good question about price. I have to say I have little experience with buying or pricing the stuff but I have seen it for as low as $10-12 litre – putting a gallon in the $38-45 range. The folks at St.Jacobs are probably pricing it fairly. It is a lot of work and requires quite a bit of energy, which explains the price (although I think there is a maple syrup cartel in place anyway since there seems to be so little price variation)

As for the sugar content, that is also an interesting question.
This year we had two sap ‘starts’ at the beginning of the season. Sugar content is highest at the beginning of the season. When sap starts, then stops (because of freezing temps), then starts again at the beginning, it’s like it’s started all over again and you get two bursts of high sugar sap (and which boils down to a very light amber colour).
The season has lasted a solid 6 weeks and most places are reporting 100%+ yield this year – so maybe prices, in a market, can be negotiated down to the low end of the scale.

-- Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves. - Thoreau

View Tim's profile

Tim

7 posts in 1385 days
hardiness zone 6b

posted 368 days ago

Fascinating read Daltxguy, I know you will enjoy your pancakes even more this year!

-- Tim

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14620 posts in 2470 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 368 days ago

oh if only I had more land … I could plant more trees. I’ve heard, though, that the sugar maples aren’t doing well in SW Ontario. Is it getting too warm for them here?

[on a side note, I’ve been meaning to ask you >>> Last year you went as green as you could get, dong without any of the “luxuries”, with the intent of identifying what you really wanted/needed. And then you moved. What is your current level of “green”. What things did you add back in?]

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View jroot's profile

jroot

4986 posts in 2100 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 367 days ago

... and where are you now DXG? New Zealand part time, Canada Part time?

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

View Radicalfarmergal's profile

Radicalfarmergal

4251 posts in 1733 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 367 days ago

DXG, congratulations on your wonderful harvest. Our local maple syrup farmer had an excellent harvest this year too. Lucky us! : ) (We exchange eight dozen pastured eggs for a half gallon of syrup.)

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View daltxguy's profile

daltxguy

882 posts in 1568 days
hardiness zone 4a

posted 367 days ago

Tim – that’s a lot of pancakes! I’d better widen the doors now while I can still move!

MsDeb – Living in the banana belt as you do, you have access to things which I could not. I’m still watching snow melt. Maybe you will find some hidden maples on someone else’s property which are not being tapped?
re: your side note question – this should be the subject of another installment in my sustainability series. Some notable things: I still wash by hand and dry by clothesline – it’s possible even in a cold climate. I worship my toaster and my kettle but otherwise no small appliances to speak of. In 8 months, I have yet to completely fill up and discard even a single trash bag. The trash people must wonder if anyone lives here. More later…

jroot – pretty much in Canada for the moment. I have ties to NZ but no reason to be there at the moment ( besides it’s about to be summmer here now!)

RFG – that’s a very fair trade I would say. The reports about the maple season seem varied even here. I’m glad I am still in the ideal climate for this.

-- Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves. - Thoreau

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

14620 posts in 2470 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 366 days ago

I look forward to the next instalment … you are an inspiration.

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View stefang's profile

stefang

393 posts in 1449 days
hardiness zone 7

posted 351 days ago

Great project. Maple sirup here is almost $20 for about 1/2 pint. Liquid gold.

-- Mike the reluctant gardening assistant of Lillian

View jroot's profile

jroot

4986 posts in 2100 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 351 days ago

Wow, liquid gold indeed!

-- jroot ....... Southern Ontario .......... grow zone 5A ...................."Gardening is an exercise in optimism." ....... . . Author Unknown

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