Have you ever wondered about the maple leaf in our logo and my signature? No, we are not from Canada. But each year as winter starts to come to an end and spring is in sight, we make maple syrup. Now, as you may already know, I am a Jersey girl and did not grow up in any sort of “farming way”, but my sweet hubby grew up on a farm in NH. He grew up making maple syrup and has brought that tradition to our family. Each year during this time, my husband is at his happiest, our house is full every weekend and we spend the most time together as a family. Everything else is pretty much put aside for Sugaring. For us, it is the one of the most special parts of our home life and only seemed fitting that it be part of our logo.
Today, is a special treat and that sweet hubby of mine is going to tell you all about making syrup!
Hi, this is a guest writer for Finding Home, Dana, Laura's husband. I'm here to give a peek into one of my favorite hobby's and favorite time of year - Maple Sugaring Time. It is six weeks of hard work, great times and an amazing product created and harvested from nature using largely the same process that has been used for generations.
(sugaring through the years at our home)
The mechanics of maple sugaring are pretty basic, what is hard to describe is the passion, our passion, for maple sugaring.
You see, I grew up doing this as long as I can remember as the farm I grew up on taps thousands of trees and makes a few thousand gallons of syrup each year. My father's side of my family and my mother's side of my family both made maple syrup. In fact, the equipment I use today came part from my father's side and part from my grandfather on my mother's side, who made maple syrup well into his 80's.
(me – as a young boy in our family sugar house)
There is something about sugaring that once you experience it, you begin to get a feel for the right weather and you step outside and can instantly smell and feel the air knowing it is "sugaring weather". It is like a treasure hunt each time you check a tree to see how much sap is in the buckets. And finally, when the sap is being boiled into syrup, the smell of the steam is a smell like no other and it is so intoxicating that you stand there hoping and waiting for another wave of steam to envelope you so that you can take it all in.
We are fortunate that we live in a great neighborhood with several house lots that have woods and the prerequisite for maple sugaring - maple trees! Beginning in the early to middle part of February, we take a weekend and "tap" the trees. We get lots of help from our friends and neighbors and the day turns into a winter celebration more times than not.
Once the tree's are tapped and the buckets are hung, we wait for the right weather, cold at nights (below freezing) and warm days (mid 40's) create the right conditions for the sap to run or flow from the trees into the buckets.
We gather the sap…
…and then its time to boil, or evaporate the sap. To make syrup, it is pretty basic. When the sap comes out of the trees, it contains about 2% sugar, when it is finished syrup, it is 66% sugar. All you need to do is cook it to evaporate off the water and after many many hours of boiling, voila, it becomes syrup! Actually, if you are looking for more a technical description, once it reaches the temperature of 220 degrees (using a candy thermometer) it is syrup.
We boil ours outdoors in this mini version of what the pro's use.
Once we get it to a certain point, we bring it inside to boil on the stove-top to be more precise with the finishing temperature.
Then we filter and fill canning jars with them.
We don’t sell the syrup, just share it with our family and neighbors who’s trees we tap. It is not uncommon for a child to ring our doorbell with an empty syrup jar and a sad face hoping for more!
We love sugaring and hope that someday, it becomes more of Finding Home. Until then...we take what we can get.
Thanks for letting me fill in and I hope you enjoy the post.
Thanks so much Dana!
I will be sharing at: