We are just wrapping up our maple syrup season here in Northcentral Wisconsin. It really is one of my favorite times of the year! It's a reminder that spring really is on its way and that the harshness of winter will be ending soon. For those of us in Wisconsin, where winter seems to last the entire year, maple syrup really is a welcome labor!
We've been making maple syrup now for three years. The first year was a complete fail. We were so excited and eager to begin harvesting something off of the land that we didn't really think things through. We tapped about 10 trees and were excited to see how much sap we got right away. And that's about when things got out of control. We got so much sap and had not thought it through about how we would cook it down. Without any equipment, we did our best to boil down the sap on the grill and then on the stove, waiting alllllllllll day for the syrup to finally be ready. We also didn't have a hydrometer, so we weren't exactly sure when that would be. So we just kept watching it and waiting, trying to figure it out. Finally it was getting close- it tasted sweet but it was still watery. We continued to cook it and ended up burning the entire batch. Talk about disappointment!
Year 2 was much better. We were able to borrow a neighbor's maple syrup pan and filter and we cooked the sap outside in the pan over a fire. We had a successful harvest, but many late midnight runs to check the sap. We still had some things to figure out!
This year, Year 3, we definitely have improved (but of course always have things to learn). We tapped more trees (actually, on the day we tapped our trees this year we finished up our last jar of syrup from last year!), invested in a bigger pan, and my dad created a more efficient fire cooker for us by re-purposing an old oil barrel. We were able to cook more at a time, meaning we only had to cook when we had the whole day to do it, so no more midnight syrup runs this year! We were able to harvest 5 gallons of syrup, each drop a sweet reminder of the labor of collecting the sap each night (while being 9 months pregnant!). Making maple syrup is something we've grown to love and we look forward to it each year- the first sign that spring is really here!
Check Out Posts on These Topics: