Our morning began with the sunrise. Before that first cup of coffee we were outside setting a fire in our makeshift outdoor wood stove to boil down sap. It’s been two weeks since we tapped 12 Maple trees. We collected 25 gallons of sap, filling every jug, pot and container we could find.
Our wood stove consisted of eight cinder blocks stacked two high and topped with six lengths of re bar on which to rest the pans. The two pans gave us a total of 3.43 square feet of cooking surface.
A metal coffee can with holes drilled on either side sits on the corner of the pans. Sap poured into the coffee can warms before trickling into the boiling pans of sap. This allowed us to add fresh sap without cooling the sap and interfering with the evaporation process.
By 4:30 p.m. the 25 gallons of sap had been reduced enough to fill one pan.
Another half-hour or so and our 25 gallons of sap had boiled down to less than a gallon. We transferred the sap into a stock pot, pouring it through a colander lined with cheese cloth to filter out ash and debris before heading indoors to finish the boil down.
Before beginning the final boil down, I ran the sap through another filter of cheese cloth and paper towel to catch the finest of debris particles.
Another half-hour of cooking and the sap hit 219 degrees, the syrup point, a few moments after snapping this picture. Just before pulling the pot off the heat, the boil was up to the edges of the pot!
Our 25 gallons of sap yielded 72 ounces, over a half-gallon of pure Maine Maple Syrup.
We’ll know if the effort was worth it when we test it out on pancakes in the morning!