Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Silence is Golden...

...or maybe Grade B?  {grin}

For several years now my younger brother and I have flirted with the idea of tapping the giant sugar maples in the woods around our parents' home. At the end of the season last year, I even picked up a few old school-style spiles on clearance at our local farm store in preparation. I can't say what exactly pushed us over the edge this year, but we dove in headfirst and haven't looked back! It's been a nifty process and we can't help but cheer at the wonder of the creation around us. Our Heavenly Father's majestic design is plain for all to see!

“Ever since the creation of the world His eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things He has made. So [we] are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

We've no idea what 'grade' our syrup is --- only that is sweet, tasty, and utterly beautiful in the eye of the beholder, namely, us. It had better be --- it sure does take a whole lot of work!  {grin}  We started our adventure by going to the "Backyard Sugaring" class offered at Blanford Nature Center in Grand Rapids. That in itself was a treat! Tree identification, the science behind the "Big Thaw," and a tour of the Sugar Shack had us chomping at the bit to get started. We're two weeks into our season and have enjoyed the trial and error of sugaring. It's become a real family affair!

We're using a system of plastic spiles, tubing, and covered 5 gallon buckets for sap collection. We have a total of 12 trees tapped (my older brother secured the permission of several of his neighbors to tap their sugar maples, too!) and our sap is registering around 4% sugar content on the hydrometer. Eek! It sure does make for tasty syrup...

The boiling process began with a propane burner and large kettle, with an ingenious little 'drip can' that my mom rigged up comprised of a quart-size tin can with a hole punched in the bottom and hung on the rim of pot with a coat hanger. Yeah, she MacGuyver'ed it --- my mom's cool that way...  {grin}  She calibrated her can so it would drip a quart of sap into the boiling pot every 15 minutes. She said syrup making is perfect for people who have short attention spans!  {wink}

My dad and older brother got a little impatient, so they went ahead and ordered an evaporator! It cuts down significantly on the pre-syrup boil and it's a little easier to skim the sugar scum off, too. Our largest sap collection on any one day was 32 gallons. That's a lot of sap to keep below 40 degrees!  {grin}

We've got about a week to go on our sap collecting before the weather warms up too much here in West Michigan. I must say that this is the most I've enjoyed the month of March in a very long time! I'm usually mourning the passing of winter and glaring at the fury of "March Madness" taking over my regularly scheduled TV programming.  {wink}  Syrup making will definitely make this time of year more 'shiny' in my estimation.


  1. Replies
    1. Yes! I need to hurry up and use it before March comes around again. Usually I'm in 'syrup preservation mode' at this point in the year, using it ever so sparingly. Now I've got it coming out of my ears! Needs must embrace my inner glutton... {wink}