Sugaring 2010

When the rest of the world is awakening to Spring, Vermonters are sugaring.  Our daffodils are still slumbering under a thick blanket of white but the trees are starting to stir as the days warm above freezing but the nights are still cold.  When spring is so long in coming, it is a delight to be out in the woods in anticipation.  The sugaring season lasts about a month and by then you are ready to be done with the long hours of hauling and boiling down.  But the rewards are sweet for the rest of the year.

We’ve made some changes this year.  We’ve added 5 more buckets for a total of 25, and we’re boiling down at our friends’ set up in their sugar house.  The process goes something like this:

Every day we head out into the woods with our 5 gallon pails to collect sap.  We wear snow shoes because the snow is deep and even with the shoes you sometimes sink to China.  We empty each bucket into the pails and carry the sap back to the house.  Yep, it’s heavy and I don’t fill the pails over 3 gallons.  That way I don’t risk spilling any and I can carry two at a time.  At the house we load it into an ice chest so we can transport it to our friends’ sugar house.  Once there, we filter it into a large clean trash can until we’re ready to boil.  The filtering removes little bits of bark, moss, bugs, etc.  Our friends have a nice set up with a modified wood stove, some custom made boiling pans and an improvised pre-heater.  We load the sap into the pre-heater, it runs through the coiled copper pipe around the exhaust stack and into the top pan and finally into the bottom pan where we draw it off for finishing in the kitchen.  Sounds simple but it takes a long time.

While we wait for the evaporation to occur, there is plenty of time for sweet fellowship, game playing and sharing dinner together.  Our first meal was pizza take-out, then waffles with syrup from the first boil, and tonight, burgers with all the fixings and brownies for dessert.  Meals are a little rustic in the sugar house: paper plates and plastic ware on your lap, but it all tastes so good, just like anything cooked and eaten outdoors.

When the sap comes from the trees it is a clear liquid and looks pretty much like water.  The sugar content of the sap is good this year, about 2%.  It takes an average of 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup.  The boiling gets rid of all that extra water and leaves you with liquid gold – maple syrup.  We’ve finished two batches so far for a total of 6 pints which we’re sharing with our friends.  We have another batch ready to finish tomorrow morning.

To see what we’ve done in years past, click here and here.  To see a post about the larger operation of some local folks in town, click here.


3 Responses to “Sugaring 2010”

  1. 1 Norma March 12, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Yup! A true Vermonter for sure. There’s nothing like REAL maple syrup. I ate Aunt Jemima for years and didn’t know what I was missing until I tasted the real thing. Thanks for that walk- through of the process.

  2. 2 Colleen Kole March 13, 2010 at 7:43 am

    The sweet reward of all that work can’t be matched! Roger is even enjoying the process. Have fun and I agree with Norma that you are now a true Vermonter.

  1. 1 It’s That Time of Year Again – Part 1 | Mountain Vistas Trackback on March 7, 2013 at 10:38 pm

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