From Sap to Syrup

Spring is off to quite a slow start here in Massachusetts. With near record snowfall for our part of the state, we are all ready for the change of season.  Slowly but surely, the days are getting warmer.  With the nights still below freezing, it's the time of year the maple sap starts flowing.  Some friends of ours have been collecting maple sap and making syrup for a while now and this year we decided to give it a try.
 My husband is an arborist, so it wasn't hard for him to identify a few sugar maples in our small patch of woods.  We started out with one tap and bucket.
The kids have been so excited to check the bucket every day after school so we figured we might as well just tap all the trees we can.  We only have 3 sugar maples so we improvised 2 more buckets and this time bought some cheaper metal taps.  The plastic tap, bucket and lid were a bit more expensive than we were expecting.
 This container that my husband rigged up with twine works especially well since it's got a spigot at the bottom and it's clear so it's easy to check.
We boiled our first batch down most of the way over an open fire, then finished it off in the house on the stove.  We started with about 1.5 gallons of sap and ended with about 3/4 of a cup of delicious, amber, maple syrup.  The ratio of sap to syrup is about 42:1. 
It's been so much fun doing this with the kids.  We've got quite a bit more sap to boil and have been learning all sorts of fun facts along the way.  We were expecting the color to be darker, but apparently the lighter color is considered Grade A and is typically more expensive.  I've read that the color is dependent on the tree and the weather and tends to darken as the season progresses.  I'm so curious to see what our next batch looks like.  No matter what the color is, everything tastes better when it's from your own backyard.


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