A SHORT SEASON OF LONG DAYS
MY HOBBY OF
MAKING MAPLE SYRUP



It all started one early spring day when I decided to cut a damaged limb from a Sugar Maple in my back yard.

It bled sap for weeks.  Concerned, I researched the consequences of my actions.

Through my research I found that, if collected properly, this sap could be transformed into Maple Syrup.

The next spring that is what I did.

Maple Syrup is made purely from the sap of Sugar Maple trees.  That's it nothing else.  Boiling Maple Sap until almost all of the water is removed will result in Maple Syrup.  The process sounds simple only there are a few things that make it more difficult than it sounds.

1) Maple Sap really only flows enough to collect and turn into syrup during early spring from late February through early April.  Generally the time is right when daytime temperatures are between 35-45 degrees and the temperature is below freezing at night.  It is during this time that the sap is moving from the root system into the tree beginning it's emergence from winter dormancy.  When nighttime temperatures remain above freezing and days warm into the 50's, the trees begin to bud and the season ends.

2) It takes about 33 gallons of sap to get one gallon of syrup.  With that in mind this is not an inside on the stove process.  Even if you wish to only make a single pint of syrup that's still a lot of water going into the air if you are trying to do it in the house.

3) Boiling has to be done precisely, a boil over is messy and can result in a burnt batch.  Not boiling long enough will result in watery syrup that will spoil.  Boiling too long and you will end up with something resembling the top of crème brulè that only a hammer will break apart.  Actually there is a point in between where, if done properly you can end up with maple cream, maple candy and even maple sugar but I am told it is very precise process and difficult to do.  You have Maple Syrup when your batch is boiling at 7 1/2 degrees above the temperature of boiling water.

4) All of this boiling takes time.  My set up shown below can handle boiling down about 2 gallons of sap an hour.

This is the short and sweet of it (no pun intended) there are many finer details to it all than I describe here.  For those of you who want to know more I have included some great links to more information after the pictures.


Collecting!  I started out with small pails that hung from the metal spouts.  The plastic pails often needed to be emptied twice a day.  The following year I upgraded to covered aluminum sap buckets.   For a tree tapped in my fathers yard I used plastic spouts and tubing that ran into a 5 gallon pail.  A single tap can yield about 10 gallons of sap per season.

Tending to the boil!  Using cinder blocks I had lying around and an old catering pan a Maple sugaring rig, or evaporator, was born.  My only investment was the smoke stack.

The coffee can on the left has a small hole in the bottom that allows the cold sap to be slowly added to the pan so the boil is not reduced.  The pot on the right is used to move almost finished sap from the pan to another container where I can better monitor its consistency.

My first season lasted about 6 weeks.  It included 5 weekends boiling down a total of 53 gallons of sap making 116 ounces of or 1.7 gallons of syrup.  The season of boiling down in the cinder block supported pan used about 1/2 cord of firewood.

A perfect weekend to make syrup! Nothing can say New England better than a spring snow coupled with the crackling of a wood fire with the smell of burning wood and maple syrup in the air.

Come and see for yourself.  I usually boil down every weekend starting late February and into March.  Give me a call and I’ll let you know what day of the weekend I will be boiling!

Finishing or the final stages of boiling down must be done with a certain degree of precision therefore once the sap in the pan is close to syrup I move it into the turkey fryer.  Once it’s within about an hour of becoming syrup it’s moved again to the kitchen stove.

Once on the stove its boil is controlled to 7 1/2 degrees above the temperature of boiling water and it's done.  Once done it is cooled to about 180 degrees then its filtered and put into containers.

My season’s batch is small so place your order for next year’s batch early!


2007 SEASON
My taste and my friends and families taste test wasn't enough. Once the 2007 fair season started I decided to get a more professional opinion. Here are the results:

Bridgewater Country Fair

2nd Place - Red Ribbon - Dark Amber

Chester Fair

2nd Place - Red Ribbon - Dark Amber

North Haven Fair

1st Place - Blue Ribbon - Dark Amber

Hebron Harvest Fair

Did not place - Dark Amber

Orange Country Fair

1st Place - Blue Ribbon - Dark Amber

Durham Fair

Did not place - Dark Amber

Berlin Fair

1st Place - Blue Ribbon - Dark Amber

Berlin Fair

1st Place - Blue Ribbon - Collection of
Fancy, Medium Amber, Dark Amber & Grade B


2008 SEASON
Not placing in two key fairs in 2007, improving my second season's batch
for the 2008 fair season was my goal. Here are the results:

Bridgewater Country Fair

1st Place - Blue Ribbon - Medium Amber

Wolcott Country Fair

1st Place - Blue Ribbon - Medium Amber

Hebron Harvest Fair

1st Place - Blue Ribbon - Medium Amber

Durham Fair

2nd Place - Red Ribbon - Medium Amber

Berlin Fair

1st Place - Blue Ribbon - Medium Amber

Berlin Fair

2nd Place - Red Ribbon - Collection of Medium Amber Syrup, Dark Amber Syrup, Maple Spread, Maple Candy & Maple Sugar


2009 SEASON
Still Searching for the elusive Blue Ribbon in Durham! Here are the results:

Bridgewater Country Fair

1st Place - Blue Ribbon - Medium Amber

Wolcott Country Fair

1st Place - Blue Ribbon - Medium Amber

Durham Fair

2nd Place - Red Ribbon - Medium Amber

Berlin Fair

1st Place - Blue Ribbon - Medium Amber


2010 SEASON
Bad year for syrup. Here are the results:

Bridgewater Country Fair

1st Place - Blue Ribbon & Ball Canning Fresh Preserving Award - Apples canned in Maple Syrup

Durham Fair

3rd Place - Yellow Ribbon - Dark Amber


2011 SEASON

Bridgewater Country Fair

1st Place - Blue Ribbon - Medium Amber

Wolcott Country Fair

1st Place - Blue Ribbon - Medium Amber

Durham Fair

1st Place - Best In Show/Blue Ribbon - Med. Amber


2012 SEASON

Bridgewater Country Fair

1st Place - Best In Show/Blue Ribbon - Med. Amber

Wolcott Country Fair

1st Place - Blue Ribbon - Medium Amber

Durham Fair

1st Place - Blue Ribbon - Medium Amber


2013 SEASON

Bridgewater Country Fair

1st Place - Blue Ribbon - Medium Amber

Terryville Fair

2nd Place - Red Ribbon - Medium Amber

Goshen Fair

1st Place - Blue Ribbon - Medium Amber

Durham Fair

1st Place - Blue Ribbon - Medium Amber


GREAT LINKS TO MORE INFORMATION

Maple Syrup Producers
Association of Connecticut

Hebron Maple Festival
(Good Time - Everything Maple)

Iroquois Maple Syrup Legend

Wenzel Sugar House

Back Yard Sugaring
(Great beginner book)

Bascom Maple Farms
(Sugaring Supplier)


Copyright © December 2013
Richard A. Feher, Jr. dfeher@comcast.net
All rights reserved.