Buckets of Ice to Bottles of Gold
Okay, admittedly it’s been a tough week for the maple trees and even us cold weather loving Canadians are tired of the arctic wind and below zero temperatures. But, that’s not going to stop us from boiling down the 160 litres (40 gallons of sap we collected initially). When it doesn’t warm up during the day the sap does not flow and this week was cold, cold, cold. Down right cold. We prefer to wait until we have at least 200 litres but sometimes you’ve got to go ahead as planned.
Creating delicious maple syrup is not a challenging or complicated task. It simply takes a good fire and some patience. The ratio is 40 to 1, meaning you need 40 litres of sap to produce 1 litre of syrup. Seems like a lot doesn’t it!?! This preservation project really should be done outside because it takes such a long time to reduce and hours of boiling on the stove is likely to create a sweaty, sticky, syrupy mess that can peel paint and strip wallpaper.
We contain a fire outdoors by building a pit to fit our sap pan. We use cement blocks, a patio slab, and piece of metal sheeting. It’s pretty makeshift but for now it does the trick. There are dreams of one day acquiring a more professional operation and lots of our friends have sugar shacks and better outdoor setups but we kind of do this on the fly, in between so many other things.
After you’ve built your fire, you can sit back for a while and enjoy a pint or two with friends but be sure to keep your fire blazing and the sap boiling. It takes hours and hours to reduce the sap to syrup. Our fire was lit today at about 11am and the maple syrup was in bottles by about 6pm. You know it is ready when it reaches 7.1 degrees F above the boiling point of water (here water boils at 212 degrees F). You can hold it at 219 degrees F for a short while to thicken it up but don’t let the temperature climb because that will create sugar crystals on the bottom and sides of the bottle.
Depending on the size of your pan you may be able to finish it outside. However, today we filtered it outside but finished it inside. It is important to filter the finished syrup using a a gravity filter made of wool or orlon. This will remove most of the sap sand as well as any other debris. We removed the pot from the stove once it reached 219 degrees F and working quickly we ladled the hot syrup into hot sterilized bottles.
To ensure proper storage the syrup must be bottled at 180 degrees F so sterilizing your jars in the oven for 30 minutes at 250F and keeping them warm until you are ready is helpful.
There are lots of tricks of the trade that we pick up from year to year by taking part in the boiling and bonding that occurs throughout our community so if you’d like to add something or ask any questions please don’t hesitate.
Put up Total:
- 1 x 350mL bottle
- 6 x 500mL bottles