Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

How to Cook Maple Syrup

I should say this is ONE way to cook maple sap into maple syrup. We are probably doing it wrong but it totally worked! So we were really excited. Maybe some of your northeasterners who know what you are doing can give us other ideas?

 This set up worked really well for us.

Here is what we learned when we were out there cooking the "M" the other day.....

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.


Heavens Door Acres said...

OK, so what were your ratio's? Started with how much...ended with how much?? I REALLY want to try this. We have 2 acres of sugar Maple trees! Ohhh, I need a mentor!! Looks like the outside fire worked pretty good and sounds like a great way to spend a day...WORKING...relaxing by the fire. *sigh*

CB said...

OFG, water at sea level boils at 212F. There's less air pressure at higher altitudes, which causes the boiling temp to decrease. That's why your boiling temp was at 208F, also you weren't boiling water so the temp varied a bit. ;)

Horst in Edmonton said...

Just thinking about the pancakes and French Toast and waffles with the Maple syrup makes my mouth water. I think your really enjoying doing things like this is fantastic. You gain knowledge and have fun at the same time. How wonderful.

collieguy said...

We'll tap this weekend. Conditions haven't been right here. Usually do it in January. First sap is the first sign we've gotten through the worst of another Iowa winter, better than geese going over or first swelling of buds.

Raw sap makes excellent tea or coffee, just slightly sweet and flavored. Ever notice that the sap of each tree is slightly different in flavor?

Provender Place said...

That sounds like a wonderful day!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

HDA - the ratios are about 40:1..which means it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup! the other day i boiled down about 20 gallons of sap and got a little over 2 pints. was it worth it? yep! it was totally fun. doing this on a bigger scale would absolutely worth it.

thanks CB! we are a little over 800 ft but i was totally surprised.. i checked 3 difference thermometers..

hi Horst! thanks so much this was a great day. and learning new things is always fun.

CG - i'm feeling we are past the worst also. and what a fun way to celebrate spring coming on. i tried a cup of sap i was really refreshing. i'll have to make tea from it. we did notice some changes between trees. mostly we have red not sugar maples. maybe thats why its so vanilla-y?

thanks PP!!

David said...

Way cool! - interesting about the rocket stove, Have you made one before?

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Dave - nope. we studied the designs but in the end the campfire just worked better for us. :-/

Nic said...

What a fun day! And you get something at the end of it too

Ohiofarmgirl said...

you said it, Nic! it was a fun day! i would have been worth it even if we only got 1 cup of the "M."

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