Last Sunday (2/7) we tapped a few trees here on the farm. We put out 9 taps to be exact. Earlier then most years but a week or two later then some locals. Some Mainers tapped early with great success due to the UNUSUAL warm weather. In my 35 years I can honestly say I do not EVER remember a winter quite like this. Last year we tapped the 3rd weekend in March, it was our first time ever.
In the past we collected sap in 1 gallon water jugs. This year we upgraded to 5 gallon buckets and tubing. Much more efficient!
Maine Man even dared to hand over the power tools. I’m a little hard on equipment!
And the sap started dripping. Flower Girl said “It looks just like water.”
It does……and I have a cute tale to go with that. A local farmer told me this story last week. His friend collects his sap, pours it in a pot and goes on to finish his chores. A while later his wife gets home, sees the “water boiling” and adds some macaroni. The man comes in and sees his sap isn’t on the stove and says “hey where’s my sap?” She starts laughing as they both realized what she had done. He said the macaroni was good, ” a little sweeter than usual.”
In addition to the maple trees we tapped 2 birch trees. I had read about it a few times before and thought it would be fun to try something new. MM was a bit skeptical but he went along with my madness once again. See why I love him so!
What I didn’t read or know
is that is takes more than double the quantity to transform the sap to syrup. It takes approximately 100 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of birch syrup. For maple syrup it takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup . In Alaska birch syrup is considered a delicacy, know I see why!
Lets just say this will be the first and last time we do that. This past weekend I boiled down 3 gallons which equaled approx 3-4 ounces. Not quite worth the effort but it was fun to try. MM described it as a “sweet, nutty” flavor “almost like the smell of a fresh cut birch tree.” I thought is smelled like cotton candy, tasted sweet but a little bitter. I’d much prefer the maple that simmered over an open fire for 10 hours. It was extremely windy the day I boiled it down. I’d hate to even count the times I stoked the fire. Tonight the sap is simmering on the top of our wood stove. Thanks for the idea Joe & Maryanne. We will see what it brings come morning.
Although it is MUCH more labor intensive there are many benefits for boiling over an open fire:
- the AMAZING smoky flavor that enhances the syrup
- a good reason to clear the rock walls of branches
- the effort and exercise you get from gathering wood
- a reason to be outside in the fresh air all day with your loved ones
- lots of ash to add to the gardens
The view of the back of the farm as we return with a load of wood.