First sweet taste

Report on day 3. You can find Day 1 and Day 2 here.

Well, the temperature dropped quickly yesterday. It was 38 degrees Fahrenheit at 11 am and was 24 by 4:30 pm.

That stopped the sap from running in tree # 2 (tree # 1 never got started).

So I collected the sap to see what I got.

Turned out to be a little more than 2 cups of sap. Taking a closer look at the weather, it looks like I’m not going to have any sap for a few more days.

Looking forward to my first taste of sweet of the season, I decided to make some syrup.

I figured it would be good to get some experience boiling the sap to see what happens and learn on a small batch first, in case I ruined it.

Here is what I did:

Measured the volume of the sap I collected (just so that I would know). It was a little more than 2 cups.

Filtered the sap, using a coffee filter.

filter sap

Good thing, too, because there were a lot of particulates in a relatively small volume of sap.

Boiled the sap, in the house, on the range in the kitchen. It was only two cups of water in total volume, so I knew it wouldn’t cause too much moisture in the house.

How long did it take?

Approximately 18 ounces of sap boiled down to syrup in a bit less than 30-minutes.

 

 

What happened?

As the concentration of the sugar in the sap went up, the color of the sap changed from clear to cloudy.

As it got really close to converting to syrup, it really started to foam up like crazy.

Then, when I pulled it off the burner, it seemed to make a taffy-like substance on the inside of the pot as it cooled.

I ‘harvested the smallest amount of sap, right before it turned to syrup.

It looks a bit more like corn syrup than maple syrup. I’ll either just drink this ( muahahaha!) or add it to my next boil.

I then scraped out the inside of the pot with a spatula and ate what tasted like a creamy maple syrup taffy.

I scraped out some of the ‘taffy’ on a spoon for each of the kids and my wife.

Then I added some water back to the pot, re-melted the sugar, then tilted the pot to concentrate it better (so that it wasn’t all spread out on the inside of the pot.

That made about a 1/2 teaspoon of sweet brown, slightly burnt maple sugar water…which tasted delish.

Not exactly the biggest haul…but certainly some relatively instant gratification and fun for a winter day that turned bitterly cold.

Thinking back to day 1, where I was trying to figure out if this was the right time to tap my trees or not…I  am glad I did.

Year to date sap tally = 18 ounces.

Notes:

There are a few things I noted here, making my first micro batch of syrup.

  1. There were a lot of particulates in my sap. Filtering was essential. My coffee filter setup worked, but I can’t help but think I’m going to be adding notes of coffee flavor to my syrup. Time to buy some dedicated equipment.
  2. The color of the ‘syrup’ didn’t look right, but I did get the right color when I ‘cleaned the pot’ by reconstituting the sugar–there must be some caramelization that happens as the transformation completes–will see if that proves true on future batches
  3. Most of the ‘yield’ was spread out in a very thin layer on the bottom of the pan. Probably better harvesting the concentrated liquor before it finishes until I have a reasonable quantity
  4. Tasted delicious. Sweet with hints of maple. Yum.
  5. Given the really cold weather in the forecast, I’m starting to second-guess starting this soon. I certainly had fun this weekend (and had the time to have fun this weekend). It all depends on what happens on Wed-Thur, I guess

First maple tree sap of the year

This is Day 2 of starting a new hobby of trying to make maple syrup at home from the two silver maple trees in my backyard.

I tapped each tree yesterday, thinking that today (Sunday) and Wednesday-Thursday might be good days for sap–based on info found online.

It snowed and then rained last night, as the warm weather came in. It was 37 degrees Fahrenheit when I checked my trees.

Tree # 1 showed no signs of sap running.

Tree # 2, on the other hand, did have sap running. I’m officially in the maple syrup making business…er…hobby.

Here is an image of the first maple tree sap of the year.

first maple tree sap of the year

At the risk of over-explaining, there is a lot of moisture in the image above. It was raining, slightly, when I took the picture. So the bark is wet, there are raindrops on the outside of the maple tree tap and dropline, but inside the tube, you can see the drop emerging from the barbed spout inside the tube.

Woo-hoo!

Not too bad for a guy who grew up in a big city. Okay, the tree is doing most of the work, but I had to make a hole and tap it :).

What are the weather conditions

So, the sap is running in one of the two trees in my backyard.

Here’s an update about the weather, at this point.

It warmed up last night to about 40 degrees, with a lot of rain.

Things are about to get cold for two days, but then those next two days look like they might be good days for sap, before it gets cold again.

As you can tell, I don’t know what I’m doing yet–just sharing what I did and my rationale for the sake of documenting it so I can get better over time (and so that you can start off smarter than me…or I…smarter than both of us).

A few unanswered questions

The good news is that I have collected the first maple tree sap of the year.

The other good news is that I now have a few more things to figure out:

  • Why is the maple tree sap running in Tree # 2 but not Tree # 1?
  • What do I do with the little bit of sap collected?

Why is the maple tree sap running in one tree and not the other

I’m not sure. Hoping the second tree, which admittedly does get less sun, because it is partially shaded by the house, is just behind the larger tree in terms of development. Although I suspect there may be something I did wrong.

If you know, please leave a comment below. As I find or figure stuff out, I’ll share with you.

What are my plans for the sap I collect today?

One complication about my  ‘get started early this year’ strategy is that I’m not sure what to do with the lame-duck amount of sap I collect today.

I fully expect the sap to stop running (appreciably) within a few hours, once the temperature drops below freezing

I’ve read you should keep sap only for 2-3 days–but that it’s okay if it stays cold/frozen. I’m not sure exactly what to do.

What do you think I should do? Please leave a comment if you have a guess, an opinion or a question. Thanks!