Think about making your own sometime. Maple syrup is made from sap gathered from sugar maple trees. There are no other ingredients, not even water. The taste is incredibly delicious. Maple syrup that is large-scale marketed and not organic may contain a number of additives: high fructose corn syrup and gluten make production cheaper and faster, adding to profits. Added food coloring allows them to market a consistent color. Done naturally, organically, your maple syrup will darken on its own and differences in color will vary.
This year we're hoping to do another round of maple syrup before the daffodills are in bloom. If you'd like to try it, gather your supplies together, find a good sugar maple tree, and watch for the weather to cooperate. Use trees that are greater than 10 inches in diameter for best results. You'll tap into the cambrium layer and damage to the tree will be minimal, very minimal.
We use food safe plastic jugs, buckets, large 30-gallon cans and pcvc waterline for spouts. Ten to fourteen trees can yield 100 gallons of sap over a week. Figure at least a gallon a day on a productive tree. Your cookdown can be in the range of 40 to 80 gallons of sap for one gallon of pure maple syrup. It depends on weather conditions and the density of sugar content within the sap. Sap gathered early in the season, right at the end of the coldest of winter, seems to have a higher sugar content than the sap that is gathered on toward spring. For example, our first gathering this year gave us a 33:1 ratio but last year's March sap was 67:1, a huge difference and a lot more work!
Steaming off the sap can be hazardous to a kitchen, making it a sticky mess. We've even removed wallpaper with the steam! Not our intended outcome, of course, but we learned from our mistake. Now we cook our sap down outside over an open fire. Like I said, plan ahead. Firewood, a tripod and a cooking pot may be added to your list of needs. Or, you could try a method we did one year: a turkey fryer and propane gas! This is a very clean method for a small batch of syrup. Since you can add sap a little at a time in your process, choose the size cooking vessel to suit your needs. Proceed slowly and with caution. When the sap thickens, it can bubble up and over the edges of your pot, and it can boil at a temperature higher than boiling water when it thickens.
Tap in late winter when the days are above freezing but nights are still very cool. The sap should be running. We use a drill size that matches our pipe. The pictures will give you an idea of a method that works for us. When we finish tapping the trees, we plug the holes with short pieces of dow rod.
Making maple syrup is work but the end result is 100% pure YUM!!! Try Stephanie's Sticky Bun Tea Ring for a quick and delicious treat!
Welcome to The Pauley Principle!
The Pauli Principle, named for Wolfgang Pauli, deals with atoms and electron-sharing that results in new, stronger bonds. Think 2 parts hydrogen and 1 part oxygen, a shared delectable (!) electron and VOILA! Water!
Similarly, when you prepare whole food to share with family and friends, especially foods you've grown, something amazing happens. Meals become tastier and healthier. Your soul, not just your stomach, becomes fulfilled. You live life more abundantly as a result. During a shared meal, the bonds that people create grow stronger and become something new: GREATER than the sum of the parts! I give you The Pauley Principle.