It's maple syrup season, everyone!
I love this time of year. It's the first thing we are able to harvest from the land after the long winter, and it is a sure sign and promise of spring. To me, maple syrup represents hope in knowing that something exciting is coming, even though things are messy. And messy they are... As the frost leaves the ground and snow melts, there is mud and slush everywhere. It's not a beautiful transition; but it doesn't have to be. Change isn't always beautiful. Sometimes, we have to go through the mud and the slush in order to get to the wonderful and exciting new springtime ahead. Change can be messy and even ugly at times. But, if the result is a beautiful spring, then that change is worth it and welcome.
We started making maple syrup a couple of years ago, and have been hooked ever since. The fact that we can get this wonderful sweet nectar from the trees each year is amazing. AND- I've learned how to make maple sugar, which I am probably too excited about....so now, if we are able to harvest enough maple sap, I'll be able to make enough sugar so I won't have to buy that at the store anymore! You see why I'm so excited?! More to come on that another day....
Making maple syrup doesn't need to be expensive. There are a few basic items that you'll need to get, but maple syrup has been being made for a long time without all of the fancy things the store tells us we need! However, there are some things that you will need to have to be successful:
Our first year, we were lucky enough that our neighbors had a maple syrup pan and a hydrometer that they let us use, and that was a huge blessing. It allowed us to try out the process of making maple syrup, see if we enjoyed it, and then prompted us to purchase a pan for ourselves. If you have friends or family that can loan you items, it's always better (to me) to share than to purchase! So much is wasted because we don't share!
Once you've assembled your supplies, you'll need to find some maple trees to tap! We always tap on the south side of the trees, as that is the side that usually gets the most sun. Tapping large, mature trees is the best way to go; they have more sap to give and aren't as dependent on all of their sap for leaf growth. A really large tree can have 2 taps in it.
You'll want to start tapping trees when you notice that the nights are below freezing and the days are above freezing (the warmer the days, the colder the nights, the better!). You can collect sap then for as long as it takes before the trees start to bud out. Once the buds form, the sap gets bitter and can't be used for syrup anymore.
To tap the trees, angle a drill at a 45 degree angle upwards and drill in 1-2 inches. Hammer in your tap, place the bucket on it, and that's it! On a warm day, you might see sap start dripping right away. That's always encouraging!
It is still very early in the season, and if making maple syrup is something you've always wanted to try, then you should try it! I'm not an expert, nor will I ever be one, but I'm still here for support if you need me! I encourage you to try it. Today was really the first day we had a nice surplus of sap and this week looks great too!
Do you and your family make maple syrup?
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