Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tough Letting Go

Well this weekend I boiled for the last time for this short season. Saturday I boiled down the last 50-60 gallons of sap that I had accumulated earlier that week. It was monsoon like and I'm so glad I had a sugar shack (however meager it may be) to shelter myself in.

I ended up with around 3.75 gallons of finished syrup which is a big jump in my production over my 1st season

Though I've taken in all my buckets and saks and after tonight it'll surely be the end of the season, I still have some trees tapped in hopes  of a cold spell.  By chance if the trees produce a small amount of sap I'll boil it down on the propane. As far as my evaporator, I have to clean the pans and misc. equippment and start thinking about modifying the arch into a brick oven for making pizza. Stay tuned for the Brick Oven Pizza and Garden Blogs!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Made some more syrup this weekend

This weekend brought my boiling days to five. I awoke early Saturday morning and boiled down 20 gallons so I could bring some nearly finished syrup up to the nature center to demonstrate how to finish off on a propane burner.

Sunday morning I modified my arch because it seemed to be choking for more air So I increased the air flow buy removing some fire bricks from the back half of the arch. Lit the fire and before long I had all four pans boiling really well. I was so pleased that I figured out the correct mix of air to fire. Now my evaporator runs cleaner, burns hotter, and boils sap down quick.

Ansonia Nature Center's Maple Festival

This past weekend I participated in the nature centers 1st annual maple festival. It was a bright sunlit breezy day filled with many activities such as the history of maple sugaring, how to tap a tree, identifying maple trees, pancake eating contest, and live demos of a barrel boiler in action as well as a demo finishing syrup on a propane burner. Plenty of maple goodies to sample and purchase.
All in all a great day to spend outdoors learning about natures sweet annual natural resource.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Boil Continues

I've made a couple more boils to date over the past weekend which brings me up to over two gallons of syrup. Its nice to start to see the "fruits" from all the effort it takes to keep up with this crazy maple addiction we have.

Sap flow has been generally good but each week has a few slow days. But he stronger flows even it out. I'm getting at least 50 gallons of sap weekly from 25 taps. Definitely enough to keep me busy.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

1st Boil

Well I boiled this past Saturday (2/20/2010) starting at 3pm or so and finished around 9:30 At that point I let the evaporator finish the fuel and I drew off the almost finished syrup. Sunday I finished the batch on the propane burner. I bottled 3/4 gallon of dark amber into various sized bottles.

I was hoping for a lighter grade but my first time using the new rig presented issues. It was burning so fast and hot on the two front pans I couldn't keep up. The next time I will control my fire so it doesn't rage so intense. Overall I'm happy with this years first batch of very tasty syrup.

Friday, February 19, 2010

...70 plus gallons later

Well here it is Friday, five days later after putting out the taps and I have around 70 gallons of sap in cold storage waiting for first boil of the 2010 season which will be tomorrow.

The trees around my area had a very good run this week. Some of the bigger trees had 4 gallons each for  a couple of the days. Today its windy around 40ยบ. It seems like the flow is slower today which is fine by me so maybe I can catch up.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mother Nature's Valentine Gift

I tapped somewhere between 12-15 on Valentines day. The sap was flowing!! I already gathered 7+ gallons. I'm hoping to boil on the upcoming weekend but I might have to do a late nighter mid week.

I tapped another 5 today. I'm trying these with tubing going into 5 gal. pails. Sure looks professional. During lunchtime, I took a quick walk and all systems go.The pails have some sap.

I'm surprised just how productive this first run is. I probably gathered another 12 gallons this evening. many taps were dripping steadily into the evening so I'm sure I'll have another batch tomorrow morning.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sugar Shack Construction

We finally got around to putting up the shelter around the evaporator yesterday. My good buddy Rich lent his expertise with our design as we build technique. I'm trying to keep it portable but at the same time it needs to structurally sound. When we got to the roof I wanted to have space to allow the steam to escape so we came up with this design. Below are some photos of the progress.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Backyard Evaporator 2010

This will be my second season at the fine craft of boiling down sap the backyard way. Started last year and found out just how satisfying and addicting making maple syrup can be. Being  outside for hours on end and tending a fire- two of my favorite activities.

My current work flow consists of boiling down the sap on a wood fired homemade cement block evaporator lined with firebrick. Followed by finishing off in a pot on a turkey fryer (propane) to have more exact control of the finished product. From there, I bring it inside on the stove to keep warm and bottle. Filtering along the way throughout the process ensures a beautiful clear and tasty product.

For the 2010 season, I plan on 30 -35 taps. I'll start tapping mid February.