Tag Archives: maple syrup

Boiling Sap

After visiting my family tapping trees yesterday, I decided to continue the sugaring season theme and visit Ed’s family today while they boiled down sap.  It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup, so you can imagine what a long process it is.

The sugar house

Ed’s dad stands over the evaporator, getting what I call a maple sap facial

The wood-fired evaporator

As I said yesterday, dogs aren’t required, but who wouldn’t want to have the dogs present? Tucker and Jed made our time in the sugar house more fun.

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Tapping Trees

A couple of people have expressed interest in seeing more about making maple syrup, so I headed on over to the farm today to visit everyone tapping trees.  I’m no expert, but I used to help when I was a kid and I understand the basic process.  If you would like to learn to make maple syrup, I suggest you speak to people in your area for more specifics.

Step 1: Gather materials.  A big family (or lots of friends) is important, because lots of hands make quick work.  You’ll also need:

  • Farm Dogs- They’re not required, but why wouldn’t you want to bring the dogs along?

Duke

Benny

  • Transportation vehicles- Again, not required, but they make it more fun. 

My cousin’s truck: Big Blue

Nate on his quad cutting off me and Jon on the gator. See mom? I told you I had proof!

  • Oh yes, you can’t make maple syrup without: maple trees, drills, quills, hooks, pails, covers, tubing.

Step 2: Drill holes in the maple trees.  We used to use hand-drills when I was little, but now battery drills are much faster.

Um, Dad, I seem to remember that you’re not supposed to climb ladders due to your bad back!!!

Drilling a hole

The bigger and older the tree, the more taps you can put on it.

Step 3: Hammer in the quill. A quill is like a little spout that allows the sap to pour out.

Step 4: Hang pails or attach tubing. We use both pails and tubing to collect the sap.  They each have their own advantages.

Pails have a nice old-fashioned look to them.  The disadvantage is that you have to collect sap from them every day to avoid overflow. 

They also have covers, but I forgot to take pictures of them…

Tubing for sap lines is convenient because it runs from tree to tree and collects in a container.  The advantage is that you don’t have to collect sap every day, it runs right into the collection tank.  However, it just doesn’t have the same New England rustic appeal that the metal pails have.

After the trees are tapped, you hope for the perfect weather for the sap to run.  Temperatures need to be freezing at night, but above freezing during the day.  When you get enough sap, you can start boiling it down in the sugar house to make maple syrup.  It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup.

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Maple Pecan Oatmeal Scones with Maple Glaze

It’s almost maple syrup season around here.  Many people think maple syrup is made in the fall, but it’s not.  Late winter and early spring, when the temperatures are above freezing during the day but still below freezing at night… that’s when the sap runs.  Last year’s syrup season wasn’t a great one, and that combined with an increased demand for local foods means that everyone I know who makes syrup, including my family, Ed’s family, members of my extended family, and other local farmers, are sold out.  Ed and I still have a few bottles of maple syrup squirreled away in our pantry. When I saw this recipe for maple-oatmeal scones, I was inspired to use some of our coveted syrup.  I made some adjustments to the recipe, accounting for the ingredients I had on hand and making additions as I saw fit.  I didn’t have any buttermilk, but substituted with 1/2 cup milk mixed with 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice, allowed to sit for 10 minutes.

Maple Pecan Oatmeal Scones

  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 lb cold butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Combine the flour, oats, baking powder, sugar, salt and cinnamon.  Cut in the butter with your fingers or a pastry blender.  In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk, maple syrup and eggs, then add to the dry ingredients.  Stir until blended, then add the pecans.  Turn the dough out onto a floured counter, then form it into 4 equal circles, about 1 1/2″ thick.  Slice each circle into six triangles, then place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake at 400°F for 18-20 minutes.  Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Maple Glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 Tbsp milk

Whisk all ingredients together, then drizzle on top of the cooled scones.

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Maple Mustard Pork Chops

This meal is extra special because it’s food that we’ve worked hard for.  The pork comes from the pigs that Ed’s family raised.  The maple syrup comes from either my family or Ed’s family, depending on which bottle I grab out of the fridge.  I serve applesauce alongside the pork chops, homemade and canned last fall from apples that my mom and I picked on the farm. 

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  • 2 bone-in pork chops (or 1 per person)
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp grainy mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Season pork chops on each side with salt and pepper.  In a small bowl, mix maple syrup and mustard, then spread on to the chops.  Bake at 375°F for 30-40 minutes until cooked through.  Serve with applesauce.

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Tapping Trees

Sunday Stroll

Today, Ed’s family took advantage of the warm weather to get outside and tap trees.  Maple syrup is a tradition that both of our families carry on.  I remember when I first started dating Ed, he was so happy that I could talk to his dad about tapping trees, making maple syrup, and I even got to make maple sugar candy with him.

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Pails collect the sap the old fashioned way.

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Melissa and Chris also set up sap lines, plastic tubing that runs through the woods and lets the sap collect into a large drum.

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The sap was running today thanks to the warm weather, but it’ll be cold again this week.  The sap will pick up when the weather warms up more during the day.  My family will wait to tap their trees until then.

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Ed and his dad split wood for the fire that boils the sap down into syrup.

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Molly, the Scottish Highlander, wonders what everyone is doing in her pen.

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The little sap house sits waiting, with stacks of wood next to it.  Soon, it will be filled with bubbling sap and sweet steam.

And don’t worry, I’ll be sure to post my family’s maple syrup set up when they tap trees, too!

To see who else is strolling today, visit the Quiet Country House.

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Sugar on Snow

I took advantage of the fluffy, sparkling snow to make our version of “Sugar on Snow”.  When I was little, we would wait for just the right fluffy snow, put bowls outside to catch it, and then we’d eat the snow with warm maple syrup on top, just like an ice cream sundae. 

The process is simple.  Put bowls outside to fill with snow (in a safe place!) or scoop up some clean, fresh snow.

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Pour maple syrup over the snow.  Enjoy!

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You can vary the recipe by using chocolate syrup, fruit sauce, or even juice.  I particulary liked lemonade on snow when I was little.

At the creamery at our farm market, we’ve continued the sugar on snow tradition by offering a “Sugar on Snow” sundae, vanilla frozen custard with our own maple syrup, whipped cream and a cherry.  We have a few customers, traditional New Englanders, who love this sundae.

I just recently learned that some people heat the maple syrup to the soft ball stage and then pour it into the snow to make a candy, but I’ve never tried it.  I might try making that in the future, but I know it could never compete with Ed’s dad’s real maple sugar candy.

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