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Archive for February, 2013

sap drop tree 1 side

Yes, Virginia; you can make maple syrup in Kentucky.

Provided you have sugar maple trees, of course, and the temperatures start see-sawing from cold at night to warm during the day at about the right time of year.

This is it.  They have.  And after helping my friend and neighbor tap his trees, and watching how he boils the sap down to syrup, I jumped in with both feet, catching the last half of the southern sap run.  I put out 30 taps on the 12th of February, and have been hustling ever since to tend the buckets and boil the collected sap in between all the other winter chores and projects.

Which should explain why it’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted here.  Been busy.

I’m not complaining, though.  Fresh maple syrup is good stuff!  Yes, it takes a lot of sap, and a lot of effort, to make a pint of syrup.  But once you taste your very own, crafted from the juice of your own sweet trees, you’ll agree every bit of work is worth it.

Not many folks around here do this.  Even my elderly neighbor, whose grandfather owned this farm, has never tasted Kentucky maple syrup.  That really surprised me.  But the Burgess clan in Russell Springs has been making it for years, and showed me how they do it, which was all I needed to inspire me to go find my own sugar maple trees and get them tapped and running, even if I was a little late and missed the first big flow.  Next year I’ll be ready from the start.

Having seen the functionality of boiling down 40 or more gallons of sap at a time in a 2′ x 4′ stainless steel evaporator pan over an outdoor fire, I went ahead and bought my pan this year, pricey as it was.  Then I tracked down a description of how to build what they call an arch for the fire, out of concrete block, and set that up too.

It rocks.

First boil

But did I mention all the work?  From daily tending of sap buckets, hauling 5-gallon collection buckets through the woods to the road, to filtering the sap, then cooking it once enough is collected, an all-day (and sometimes all-night) endeavor – we’re talking hours and hours, folks.  Then, it has to be finished inside on the stove, boiled to 7 degrees above the temp of boiling water until it turns to syrup, and the little bit left in the kettle gets jarred up.  Lots and lots of work.

The final product, however, is amazing.  Not always crystal clear, unless you buy the fancy filters to strain all the sugar sand out; but maple flavor to make your head spin.  Nectar of the maple trees.  Made by the pint, so don’t think for a minute this is a money-making enterprise, but:  Kentucky maple syrup.  Enough perhaps to last the year and send a little to family.  Makes me feel wealthy as a queen.

Maple syrup

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