Thursday, March 14, 2013

Back To The Sugar Bush

Here is a picture of a tree with a catheter.

Bob and Karen tapped their maple trees again, and invited us to share in the spoils.  The picture to the left is one of the tapped trees. In previous years we fiddled around with plastic bags to cover the openings on the jugss.  The opening needs to be minimal so that bugs don't get into it.  Don't ask me what bugs are doing awake in March, I don't know.  I provided some rubber stoppers this year to make operations a little easier.  They were #10 rubber stoppers with a tiny hole in the center. I drilled a larger hole for the tubing to fit through.  I offset the hole from the center so that the center hole would act as a vent.  They worked out awesome.

Todd and I went over to harvest some sap on Monday.  I took 10 gallons home, and he took 15.

Here is our sap reducing laboratory in action.  It looks much like a modern gas stove, but do not be fooled!  I've not quite finished the batch up yes, but the water boils off at a rate of about a gallon per hour.  We learned from previous experience that the more surface area you have the faster the evaporation.  I have 2 stainless flat pans but only found this one, thus the pot on the right.  I add about a pint of sap from the pot to the flat pan every 20 mins.

Here is the first 5 gallons, reduced down by about 90%. Once you get past this point the syrup starts to foam like crazy. Last time I finished it off in the oven. This time I put it in the oven and left it a little too long - it foamed over the edge and deposited a big glob on the bottom of the oven. The scent of burnt marshmallows is evoked every time I turn the oven on now. I then decided to finish drying it on the stove. This doesn't work so good, there are too many hot spots on the stove top and the sugar starts to caramelize. I will have to go back a little later and finish it off in the oven (this time paying more attention!)  I will post the yield weight once the sugar is dried (less what I burned, and also what I sampled.)

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