Saturday, March 2, 2024

Sap to maple syrup observations


Putting sap in the barrel kept it cold so we could accumulate enough for a boil but it also froze and we couldn’t get it out when we wanted. 

We couldn’t boil on the original planned day because it was raining and we didn’t have a cover. *Bought an inexpensive canopy to solve this in future*

Collecting from the metal buckets was easy but we still ran into freezing issues. Debris fell in the buckets (we borrowed the buckets from a friend and they didn’t have lids) so we needed to filter it before pouring into the barrel. Couldn’t do that when frozen obviously and didn’t want to put debris laden sap-cube into the collection barrel. So thawed in the house and then filtered into the barrel. Worked, but a real pain.

Filtering sap through cheesecloth and a sieve worked well.

Location of collecting barrel too far from stove.

*Thinking it would be better to collect in milk jugs that could be stored in the fridge until ready to boil. This also allows smaller boils.*

Have had the first boil. Started at 9:30, stopped at 6:30 (note I did not say we finished). Not much is left in the barrel and we got about 2 gallons from active buckets.  You have to pay attention to the fire and the boil rate. Adding sap regularly so that the level in the evaporation pan stays about the same. It’s not urgent work but you are fully engaged.

The stacked brick stove that Chris built worked great. We have identified some improvements for the “real” stove that will be built (apparently we’re going to do this regularly). A higher cooking level so you don’t have to stoop to stir. A door for loading the small splits of wood. Air intakes that can be opened/closed. A higher chimney flue opening at the back of the firebox. A level cooking surface. Space between the cooking surface and the chimney as that’s the hottest part of the fire.

Before cooking anything measure the capacity of your containers so you have some idea of how much you’ve done.

Day 2 of boiling we started late because of morning yoga. Started at noon, stopped at 6:30 again. We’ve got about 4 gallons of sap/syrup to finish.

Cooked those 4 gallons outside on the fire for 2 hours until they’d reduced enough to bring in the house. Boiled that in the big stockpot for 2.5 hours until 218F (we are at 1,000 foot elevation and water boils here at 210). Our final yield is 8.5 cups, which is slightly more than we were aiming for. I put some in quart glass jars with plenty of head space for freezing. The rest is in pint jars which we’ll start consuming tonight. Looks like it’ll be waffles for dinner!

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