This set up worked really well for us.
First, our rocket stove didn't take off. Maybe we were missing something but it didn't seem worth it to construct the whole chimney thingy to have a small fire that only kind of did the job.
So we moved on to a campfire type set up. We were warned by a couple people that if we cooked the sap over a regular fire it would taste smoky. Ours didn't get smoky at all and it was terrific. But I'm not a superduper taster so if it had smoky notes I didn't notice. We actually thought our syrup was pretty vanilla-y.
The campfire arrangement was the business. It worked like a charm. Granted I can make a smokin' hot smoke-less fire... so maybe it was more luck than anything.
The day we cooked the sap outside it was pretty darn cold - and it even snowed a little later in the day. We used the biggest pot we could find and then a smaller one also. We'd get a head start with the smaller pot and let it boil pretty fast until it boiled down to a certain level. Then we poured it into the bigger simmering pot. This way we could boil as much of the water out as possible.
Yes the handle on this pot it broken - that's why I'm using it on the campfire.
At the end of the day we brought in both pots and let them set on the woodstove all nite. Then after church we "finished" it on the stove top. Apparently you are supposed boil the heck out of it until it reaches 7* over boiling. Then its officially syrup.
The only wonky thing we found was that we hit boiling at 208*!!!! I'm a little freaked out by that but we rolled with it and took our syrup off the heat at 215*.
It was spectacular.
We had pancakes.
Very soon there will be french toast. Oh yes.... there will be french toast.
So was it worth it? Heck yeah! The day I sat outside and tended the fire was one of my best days on the farm this entire winter. I sat with my feet propped up getting warm, randomly reached down to pet the dog from time to time, and watched snowflakes melt in my hot chocolate. It was fabulous.
But was it worth it just get a few pints? I guess that depends on how you value your time. Sure I could have driven down and grabbed a $9 bottle off the grocery story shelf then gone home and watched Desperate Housewives of Peoria for the rest of the afternoon... but my time is more valuable than that. I'm learned fun things and had a terrific time doing it. So yeah, it was worth it.
Happy Thursday everyone! Any body else boiling their syrup this week? Sap is going to be running Saturday and Sunday for sure. I don't know about you but I'm totally hooked on this syrup thing.