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North Shore Permaculture Collaborative Message Board › Backyard maple sugaring

Backyard maple sugaring

A former member
Post #: 199
I have to say that was an ingenious set up that you had last year! Love the creative repurposing. smileIt's nice that you have the pictures documenting things. I now remember we had very little snow cover last strawberries suffered.
Gloucester, MA
Post #: 38
It drove me crazy waiting for a frigid night to see if the tree would start running again. I'm glad to say that the waiting paid off. Got about a half gallon to bring my running total to 3.5.
A former member
Post #: 19
That's what makes this process so mysterious. You just never know.

Overall, I'm getting the sense that our yield (and the neighbor's) is starting to slow down...but maybe it's just due to the cold snap. Haven't had any overflowing buckets for several days...even though one of the taps that has been wimpy up until now suddenly came up with a half gallon, all by itself.

We looked at the 10-day forecast and it appears that next week will have daytime temps in the 40s and nights in the freezing range. We are thinking that we'll start boiling off on March 15. My son will be home on spring break, and David might take on day off. If we can get enough "burn-meisters" lined up, maybe we'll be able to wrap up the process on one day.

How much longer do you think you'll gather sap? I was reading somewhere that the official "season" goes into April. OMG. Can't last that long!
Gloucester, MA
Post #: 39
Well, right now I'm thinking of boiling some sap Monday afternoon into evening since I am quickly running out of storage capacity. I figure on collecting sap for as long as I can get it. Just need to come up with some roasting pans for the big boil.
A former member
Post #: 20
Talk about running out of storage! I have a rotten cold and didn't go out at all to collect anything yesterday, aside from emptying one milk jug that had about 2 quarts in it. This morning I looked out the kitchen window and noticed that the same jug looked half-full. Didn't seem possible, so I ignored it and went back to bed. But this afternoon I looked at the jug again and it was overflowing.

I forced myself to go outside, and was shocked at how much sap was in the buckets. From 4 trees we had 13 gallons in two days. This puts us at over 50 gallons. Never in a million years did we expect this much. At this point we have used up every lobster pot, sauce pan, and plastic storage bin we have lying around. So we're going to start boiling on Sunday. Monday's weather looks pretty bad -- strong winds -- and it would be better to have two days in a row to work. But if we make enough headway on Sunday, maybe we can finish up inside.

I'll let you know what we decide. You're welcome to come up here for a kick-off.
Gloucester, MA
Post #: 40
Lobster pots, brilliant! I will have to miss out on the kicker, in Chicago for the weekend. Awesome that you have enough to make a gallon, barring spills ;)
A former member
Post #: 202
Well, the forsythia poked me in the eye and I wanked my leg falling into a snowbank... Wondering what this message is from the woody ones?

But we have 24 gallons of sap collected in beer jugs...on the front porch to welcome anyone coming to the door. I'm planning to start the cook tomorrow. I'm a bit worried about the storage temperature at mid-40's.

I'm going to continue the sap collection. Next week's weather looks prime. But the silver maple wants to bloom soon so I'll stop collecting from that one soon.

Next year I'm going to use different storage containers. The glass jugs seemed good at first consideration but too much trouble with washing and worrying about freezing.

Stop by if you'd like to hang out over the sap boil.

lee l.
user 13126023
Beverly, MA
Post #: 8
Where do you live, Charlotte? I may stop by on my way back from Newbury tomorrow afternoon if it isn't too late.
A former member
Post #: 204
Lee, I'm at 26 Topsfield Road in Ipswich. We're doing Biodynamic fruit tree painting this afternoon from 1-3. Then I'm heading off to Newbury for the local foods presentation and potluck.

It was too windy for boiling on Saturday. I may just wait until Tuesday also.
A former member
Post #: 21
Hi everyone...We decided to start boiling yesterday. Even though it was windy, we felt that our area was sheltered enough and that we needed to get started. Here is a photo of our cement block "evaporator," with our two pans -- a restaurant steamer insert and a turkey roaster -- on top.

We have been pretty conservative with the temperature and have never reached a full rolling boil. I suppose if we had 100% time to devote to watching the pot, we'd stoke up the stove hotter. But we decided to just get things up to a simmer -- around 190 degrees -- and see how long it took. Given the temperature and the wind, we found that we were adding roughly 2 quarts to each pan every half hour.

Interesting to note that the stainless steel steamer pan provides a much better view of the sap as it begins to caramelize. Since we don't have any fancy equipment other than our eyeballs and a digital thermometer, we feel that watching the color change is very helpful.

We let the fire die down last night around 6pm and poured the sap back into the lobster pot. This morning we fired up again, even though it was drizzling. Right now at 4:45 we have boiled a total of about 17 gallons. I'm getting nervous because this is the point where we have to watch it non-stop. I think that by 5:30 we'll be ready to consolidate both pans into our stock pot, bring it indoors, and do the final boiling. Boy, I hope we don't mess it up. I'm figuring that 17 gallons will yield around 1.5 quarts, but who knows?

We are going to keep boiling all week, weather permitting. If you want to come up tomorrow before you start your own boiling, drop a note and I'll give you directions.
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