Sunday, March 14, 2010
2 1/4 Gallons of Gold
Today we finished off the syrup from the sap we'd been boiling for the last few days. Its a little bit of a process because we actually lift the stainless steel pan off the sugaring arch (the barrel stove) and then empty the near-syrup into pots which we bring inside to boil the last few degrees.
The temperature at which the boiled sap becomes maple syurp is 217 (at our elevation) and just as the syrup is nearing its finish point it characteristically goes into a frothing boil of millions of tiny golden bubbles, which can be calmed by waving a wooden spoon with a little butter on it through the foam. As soon as we hit 217 we then pour the hot syrup through a double filter, consisting of a synthetic changeable filter and a wool hanging filter. There is a sand-like substance called niter which needs to be removed in this process along with any other debris that might have made into the syrup. We hang the filter from one of the roof cables in the yurt and I stand on a chair and do the pouring. The filters fill up quickly, so for the first minute or two the syrup pours through quickly, but it slows down as the niter builds up.
I wasn't really paying attention to how much sap we'd collected, so I wasn't really sure how much syrup we'd end up with. To my delight, we finished off with a little more the 2 1/4 gallons. That means we boiled somewhere in the neighborhood of 80-100 gallons of sap, collected from roughly 30 taps.
The weather has been a little too warm over the weekend for much sap to be flowing, but we're hoping for some cold nights to get things moving again.