Whew! It was a short and speedy sap season around Two Rock Ridge! We only collected sap for a week (a week!) but still walked away with a gallon of sticky-sweet yumminess.
As sometimes happens, our goals were a little higher than we were able to climb — we fully intended to have the new boiler fabricated (it’s still just an old oil tank sitting outside) and installed in the finished sap house (which still needs a door and shingles more than a month later). So, we settled for making enough sap to get ourselves through until next year.
We used a very small wood stove as our boiler again this year, with two sap pans on top and valves to refill (or empty) the pans as needed. The setup looks like this:
Boiling also was a little slower this year because it was my first year boiling alone. Jeff was at work and we had sap that needed to be taken care of, so he gave me a quick tutorial on how to run the wood stove and what to watch for as the sap boils down.
I would love to say I was hugely successful and he was very jealous of my skills, but, alas, that would be a lie. I boiled for hoooooooours one day and only managed to get about a quart of almost-finished syrup. But, it was a sunny day and I didn’t have much else to do so I brought out a book and a beer and spent some quality time in the sap house.
Jeff was home the next day, and I was — you guess it — at work. So he took over and had much better luck after he made a few adjustments to the boiler system.
Did I mention it was also incredibly cold and windy on the days we were boiling and that the sap house doesn’t have a door? I did? Right, sorry.
Back to making syrup. We took what I boiled down and what Jeff boiled down and finished it off in a turkey fryer outside. I must say that worked a whole lot better than finishing the syrup inside the house like we have done in past years. While the house smelled great, the steam made everything slightly sticky.
One the syrup was, well, syrup, I put it all in sterilized Mason jelly jars and water-bath can them for good measure.
Anyway, it wasn’t the greatest sap season for us, but it really was still a fun time.
Here’s a super-weird video of a simmer (not a boil). Wish I could tell you what the ruckus in the background is, but I can’t, because I don’t know. However, Jeff tells me it is the metal being heated by the fire, which is probably correct. The phone shooting the video was very close to the pan.