Wednesday, March 10, 2010
The sap has been flowing, so we have been making syrup. This is our first year and so it is kind of a small scale trial. We are using gallon milk jugs on our taps, of which we have only 11.
Then, we collect it in 4 gallon buckets with lids, acquired at the local grocery store for $1 apiece and bring them from the woods either with the tractor or 4-wheeler. It is extremely muddy and slushy right now as about 2 feet of snow has been slowly melting.
The next step is to filter the sap through a milk filter to remove any bits of bark or dirt or bugs or whatever may have fallen into the buckets. The filter sits in the bottom of a big coffee can that Sam drilled some holes in. We filter it into a warming pan on the stove in the kitchen. We keep it warm because as the sap evaporates outside, we need to add more sap to the evaporating pan and we don't want to change the temperature too much.
We are using our gas grill, which is hooked directly to a line which comes from one of the gas wells on our farm. This is not the ideal set-up, as it won't hold the sap at a good boil without closing the lid, but so far it is working and we can boil off about a gallon of water an hour from the sap. So basically, if we have 10 gallons of sap, we will spend 8 to 9 hours boiling sap and end up with about a quart of syrup! Watch for more on this next week.
I think next year we will build a wood-fired evaporator, which will be more labor-intensive, but will stay hotter and boil the sap off more quickly.
By the way, the syrup is YUMMY!
I received my yarn for the Mystery Lace Shawl KAL on Friday and started it on Monday. I had to get to a good stopping point in my sweater before I allowed myself to start. Very pleased so far, I am working on clue 1 and have clue 2 and clue 3 comes out this Friday. Then I will have 2 weeks before clue 4, so I think I will catch up!