Gutting the house and updating the electric is not all that exciting or pretty. So I have been very reluctant to post lately. What is exciting?…Maple Syrup! This is the season we tap our sugar maple to collect sap and boil all day every day making maple syrup. Maybe it doesn’t sound like that much fun, but it isn’t that much work either as opposed to how we grow or harvest other raw foods we eat. It’s so simple, easy and rewarding to make your own (providing you have a maple tree of some kind)!
This is actually only our second year doing this, but the Native Americans did it long before we came here with nothing but hollowed reeds and wooden buckets. Last year we used a small piece of copper pipe and let it hang over and drip into the biggest glass jar I could find. The gallon sized jar sat up on a shelf and was overflowing by the end of every day which was quite messy. I used one of my aprons to tie over the jar to keep out the bugs. As you can imagine it wasn’t the greatest setup, but it worked. We had some of the best maple syrup.
This year we decided to go all out. As you can tell in the picture, we bought clear tubing so we could watch the sap run (we’re not as crazy as we sound). Our fancy bucket holds 5 gallons and is also clear so we can watch it fill up in one days time! Well, we think it’s cool. We clamped the tubing over the copper pipes, because I imagine my kids would have fun pulling the tubes off if we hadn’t. I used tin foil to cover the bucket for now because it didn’t come with a lid, but at least I didn’t have to give up an apron. Also, I read on wiki (my go to source for lots of information) that you can tap a tree up to three times as long as it measures 27″. Using my seamstress measuring tape which maxes out at 60″ I measured our enormous Sugar Maple tree. I had to ask the kids to help hold their fingers everywhere I left off to begin again. Our tree is 128 inches!
For us maple syrup is a food staple. Since we have been trying to buy most of our food locally or grow it ourselves, certain items have become harder to come by. Who grows sugarcane in WV? No one. Maple syrup can be substituted as a sweetener though especially in recipes calling for brown sugar. FYI – Maple syrup contains more manganese than sugar, plus zinc, and 15 times more calcium than honey (and less sodium). It’s nutritious!
Fortunately for us, when we move we will still be able to make maple syrup at our new place. There are four maples in the backyard, though none are as large as the tree we tap now. This is an activity we will carry on for a lifetime.