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Archive for the ‘Maple Syrup’ Category

Fig with matching Bug

Fig with matching Bug

The back porch is the closest I can get to a cool greenhouse. It has windows on three sides, and is heated with electric baseboard heaters that are turned down to 40F most of the winter. This makes it a great place to over-winter the fig tree and any remnants of outdoor pots that I can’t bear to toss out in the Fall. It’s also a catch-all for garden remnants that are awaiting further processing. This includes several year’s worth of flax plants and a container of black walnuts (the hulls are another story).

This year, the fig tree started putting out leaves in February, which seems a little early, but so far it seems happy enough and is sporting a little bug that perfectly matches the green of the leaves.

In spite of having two years worth of flax to experiment with, of course I’m planning to plant and harvest some more this year. I suspect that it takes a great deal of raw fibre to produce even a very small amount of linen thread, so the more the better.

Flax Bundles

Flax Bundles

The black walnuts are enjoying their second winter in the porch, so it may be time to make a present of them to the local squirrels. I’m always amazed that they are so good at getting at the kernels, a job I do not greatly enjoy doing myself.

Black Walnuts

Black Walnuts

Next on the agenda is a trip to the farm to put out a few sap buckets and see if we can make a few litres of maple syrup. It’s fun to get outdoors on a sunny day in March and listen to the patter of the sap droplets in the buckets and poke at the wood fire that we use to boil down the sap. Cold, but fun.

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Bucket line

This is the third year that we’ve travelled to my parents summer place across the river in west Quebec and tapped some maple trees. We only stay for a few days and the weather this spring has warmed up very quickly, so we were fortunate to catch the days when the sap was running pretty well. The buckets went out on Saturday, March 10th and we took them down again on the 14th.

Topping up the pot

We added three new buckets, bringing our total to 9, and once the sap was boiled down, we had about 4 litres of syrup. The colour looked a little darker than last year, but it’s always delicious, and you do work up an appetite sitting outdoors and watching the fire. We finish it off at home on the propane BBQ, but I think the wood fire gives it a special aroma.

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The sap is still running up here, but we’ve already finished making our little batch of syrup.

Starting on March 16 and finishing on March 30, we collected enough sap with 7 taps to produce about 4.75 litres of syrup, so we assume that we have collected at least 190 litres of sap – or 27 litres per tap. We could still be collecting, but we were limited by the amount of wood we had on-hand for the fire, and the size of the pot we use for boiling the sap down.

As it was, we ended up doing the final boil on the BBQ and very briefly on the kitchen stove.

It’s hard to know the best time to start tapping – studying the weather forecasts, is one way, as is waiting for the full moon in March (the Full Sap Moon), but it I think it’s best to wait until the snow has melted in most of the yard, and the sun is warm enough to encourage sitting on the porch with a hot cup of coffee and a good book.

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Maple Syrup Time

Last year's maple syrup operation

March and April are sugaring months up here.

This week the temperature is just about right for tree tapping. When the days are just above freezing, and the nights are just below, we’ll be ready with our (6) buckets, taps and portable drill.

Then it’s off to my parent’s farm where we’ll collect the sap and start boiling it down into delicious maple syrup.

Syrup boiling down

There really aren’t many tools needed to make maple syrup: tree taps, a cordless drill, buckets with lids, a big container to collect the sap from the buckets, a heavy pot and a good thermometer. It also helps to have a good supply of  fire wood and patience.

Last year with three buckets, we collected about 40 litres of sap over a couple of days, which boiled down into about 1 litre of delicious syrup – it was a very good (first) year!

Final Product

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