Sunday, April 6, 2014

Syrup Update

This year's sap season has unfolded pretty much as I thought it would, back when I tapped trees nearly two weeks ago, which was all ready about two weeks later than I had tapped in previous years.

Temperatures have fluctuated up and down, alternately being too cold for sap, then too warm for sap.  Sap needs dry, non windy days above forty degrees, preferably with sunny skies, and nights below freezing to run optimally.

I tapped, then sap didn't run for the next six days because the weather was too cold.  The weather warmed up, and sap ran awesome for two, maybe three days.  Then the weather was windy, rainy, and nights did not drop below freezing for four more days.  Which means, in about thirteen days of having taps set, I have collected a grand total of 17 gallons of sap from ten taps.

That is a low amount of sap, for those not acquainted with the whole maple syrup making procedure.  It will boil off to not even a half-gallon of syrup.

To make it worse, some of the trees are all ready starting to drop bud casings and their sap is turning yellowish.  Meaning buddy sap.  Meaning not tasty.  Meaning I will need to pull taps from those trees very soon.  Possibly today.  Also meaning that sap season is coming to a swift end, as the rest of the maples will be budding out shortly.  Given the weather forecast for the coming week, I expect all the trees to be giving buddy sap before Friday gets here.

So, 2014 looks like it will be short of maple syrup in my part of the country.

This year, I am once again using our turkey fryer, set up in the garage near the overhead doors, to boil off.  So far, with this first batch I am processing, the wind is light enough and from the correct direction to enable me to have the eastern most overhead door completely up. Which is great, because boiling sap for hours on end creates a lot of steam, and being able to have at least one garage door up means the humidity level stays tolerable.

all set up to boil off

collected sap, waiting to be boiled

looks like a pot of water, 
but it is 100% maple sap

the sap changes from clear to brownish as it boils

boiling away

Next year, hopefully DH will have thrown together a little sugar shack back in the woods for boiling off in, and cobbled together a wood-fired arch (the combustion chamber of an evaporator).  We have scrap lumber.  We have cinder blocks for making the arch.  I have a spot in the woods all picked out, thanks to a natural clearing made even larger during the big wind storm we had back in November that took down about 1/5 of the trees back there. It is conveniently located roughly in the middle of the part of our woods where all the maples are located. All I really need is real sap pans to boil off in, and some sweat equity and time from DH's schedule.

future site for my sugar shack?

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