This spring I got to experience something I never had before: making maple syrup from scratch! We started out by tapping a bunch of the maple trees in front of the farmhouse, first boring holes into the trunks and then adorning them with spouts, buckets, and rain covers.
After a few weeks of collecting sap it was time to boil. Turns out it takes about forty gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup – I knew the ratio was high, but not that high! Because this was just for ourselves, not any sort of demonstration for the public, we had a pretty makeshift sugar shack operation going on. No lovely cauldron of bubbling sap suspended over the fire. No, we had metal trays propped up on concrete blocks, and sap stored in empty milk jugs. You gotta do what you gotta do.
You add sap a little at a time, stirring it occasionally as it boils down and skimming the foam off the surface. It took about a day to do all of ours, so we took shifts, and it ended up turning into a sort of party with a bunch of us sitting in lawn chairs around the fire, snacking and reading out loud to each other. Next Monday we’re going to have a pancake breakfast for the staff. I can’t wait – there’s something so satisfying about eating something that you had a hand in the production of!