Maple Sugar Round Up

As of this weekend, our maple sugaring season is over. The trees haven't budded out yet, but the sap has slowed way down now that we aren't getting below freezing temperatures at nighttime any more.

We boiled down our last three pints of syrup over the weekend, and next weekend we will be dismantling the fire pit, taking out the spiles, and cleaning everything up to pack away for next year.

2014 maple sugaring stats:

4 taps (3 in our sugar maple and 1 in our Norway maple)

32 days of collecting sap

80-90 gallons of sap

17 1/2 pints of maple syrup

The one thing I didn't keep records of was the obscene amount of firewood we burned through to make this happen. I do now that we spent a lot of money on it, because we were getting it at the hardware store by the bag. In the future, we plan to build a small woodshed behind the garage and order a half-cord or cord in the fall, which will see us through any emergency fires we'd need to light due to a power outage, and of course get us through maple sugaring in the spring at a much-reduced cost per log.

Finally, in the photo above you can see how the color (or grade) of the maple syrup changes over the course of the season. Our first three weekends of syrup-making produced Grade-A results like the medium amber jar on the left. This past weekend, though, is a Grade-B syrup. It's much darker, and Kirk thought it was a bit more like molasses in its taste. Its flavor is much stronger, with just a teensy touch of bitterness at the finish. I'm thinking those final three pints will be the ones I reach for this summer when I give maple-almond ice cream a try. (Recipe to follow once I figure it out, of course.) The strongest possible flavor is ice cream is a good thing, and it's probably just right for experimenting with in baking as a sugar substitute as well.

All told, we had a great time with this project, and will definitely do it again!


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