This Week In My Kitchen :: Blog Hop
This Week In My Kitchen

Our First Year Sugaring

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Much of my husband's day to day work life involves juggling many details of critical importance that require careful attention and great intellect. It seems reasonable, given that people should be able to depend on their attorney to accomplish the job correctly and efficiently. There is not much room for letting things unfold organically or going with the flow. Though his office has an incredibly healthy attitude toward maintaining a low stress approach to law, there is still a certain protocol that needs to be followed and it requires an awful lot of  mental energy and responsibility.

But... I married a Gemini. Nothing exemplifies the expression "there are two sides to one coin" like a Gemini. 

Sugaring has been the perfect vacation for Adam. Some lawyers golf, Adam is all about the woods. Sugaring has proven to be a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors in late winter while producing a much needed, valuable resource for our home.

Every few days for the month of March, Adam would come home after a long day of contracts and courtrooms, hang up his suit, and head down the street to boil sap in my uncle's sugar house until 1am... a few times he fit it into the weekend. Sugaring has all the elements that speak to him - trees, hours and hours spent outdoors, physical exertion, fire, the smell of woodsmoke, moments of solitude. What more could a guy (or gal) ask for? There is also a flexibility within the sugaring process (once you move past the highly perishable sap phase) that provided a much needed balance to his day job.

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Adam used the small evaporator while my uncle boiled his thousands of gallons of sap in an evaporator the size of a car (it's a beauty). In the end we collected and boiled a little over 200 gallons of sap which yielded a little over five gallons of maple syrup. I numbered the batches so we could appreciate the unique grade and flavor that comes from different collections throughout the season. In total we had six boils. 

We finished off the syrup here at home on our kitchen stove (my tiny contribution to the effort). This worked out really well and wasn't overly steamy or sticky at all. I wouldn't have attempted it but my uncle assured me boiling indoors for the finishing stretch was a relatively short process and wouldn't overwhelm our house (or my father's custom oak cabinets) with sticky humidity. Each batch took about an hour or so to finish on the stove before one final straining and bottling.

We set out thirty taps for our first year of sugaring. Surprisingly, we could at least double that number if we wanted to on this modest four acre property. This land is all about sugar maples and we just might up our game next year to help it show off to its potential. We could have squeezed another week out of collection and quite possibly produced another gallon of syrup, but Adam had a busy end of the month coming up at work and we had a few weekend commitments the last couple of weeks so our schedule looked a little tight. We decided to call it and feel abundantly blessed with the five plus gallons of liquid gold that is now in our pantry.

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When we set out to try our hand at sugaring this year, I had envisioned boiling here at home. The hours spent boiling are long and of course it would have been convenient to bounce in and out of our own house and throw Scout his frisbee over and over throughout the day. But really, the wisdom that my uncle shared with Adam could never be found in a book or through a google search. I'm not really sure how to pay back his generosity... loaning us all the equipment from tapping to gathering to boiling to straining... insisting we use his already chopped, seasoned and stacked firewood... the hours and hours he hung out with Adam sharing stories and experiences of nearly every major sugaring operation in the Northeast... how do you repay that? I'm not really sure yet, but who knows, maybe he'll need a good lawyer someday... I know a guy that can hook him up with that.