Tag Archives: maple

tap tap tap

The sap is running!  Last year we were largely robbed of the sugar season when winter ended a month early (just kidding!  Catastrophic frost in June!).

I completely failed to get taps in the trees on time last year.

This year, the sugar season is right on time, precisely timing the sugar moon.  I’ve got one tree tapped, the sap is flowing, and I’m even boiling it down!In the past I’ve tapped several trees and collected an awe-inspiring quantity of sap, and failed to boil any because in general I don’t even try to resist chugging it, cold, standing next to the tree (WOW!).

I made kombucha from it (wow), I boiled it to make tea, and soup, but not syrup.

Also I believed the horror stories of dripping walls and sauna reenactments from boiling sap indoors and vaporizing 39 out 40 parts water.  Doing it anyways.  I discovered something, maybe.  I was in and out of the house today turning the stove on when I was in and off when I left (window open), and whenever I returned to the cooled pot, there was a remarkable drop in the high water mark.  It seemed quite a bit was evaporating every time while it cooled, without the burner on.  So perhaps that’s a tiny bit more efficient?

But this time, I have a modest amount collected, (still chugging it from the bucket but with a little restraint), and I’m hoping for a quarter cup of syrup :D.  Maybe a half a cup:)

Maple trees

Since we have discovered the joy and ease of maple sap collection, I’ve developed keen eyes for the maple trees.  At the beginning of spring the maples bud before the other trees, and the treetops turn into a burst of red against the sky.

One grey day I decided to go flag all the maples in our general habitat zone.  There were about 5x as many as I thought, more than 30, and the dog patiently slogged through the underbrush with me to each one, as I saw  yet another telltale red  treetop and went to flag it.IMGP0361

I cannot tell the difference between rock (sugar) maples, and red (not so sugary) maples at this stage.  I can tell before the buds open and go all red, but I missed that.  By next year we will probably have distinguished between the two kinds, but for now, I was just flagging all maples, mostly so we don’t get carried away and cut any down, but also so that we can keep an eye on them and figure out which are which.

There are only a few days that the buds are out announcing themselves, and raining the telltale sprinkling of red flowers onto the ground.  I look first at the ground, and then up, to see which tree is dropping them.

More, about a chicken


The colour in the jar is so lovely
The colour in the jar is so lovely

Since tapping our half dozen trees, we have learned exactly how much sap maples can produce: a GREAT deal.  6 trees=2 gallons on a warm sunny day.

We are completely overwhelmed by it, especially since the weather stopped being cold cold warm, cold cold warm… We could keep up with that.  The weather has finally started to turn warm warm warm, so we are drowning in sap.  We are not yet up to drinking 5 gallons at once, like the crazy Koreans I linked earlier (that would keep us on top of it).

What to do with it all?   *Trumpets*  Hail kombucha!

It first occurred to me when I was reading about syrup reduction and encountered a comment explaining that when the sap is improperly or incompletely reduced, sometimes a ‘mother’ can form on top in the bottle of syrup, and this is a distasteful, undesirable thing….. wait, what?

Did somebody say ‘mother’?

I was already making maple sap-ginger tea all the time with chopped ginger in sap, so I started a jar of kombucha with that, 3/4 gal of straight sap, a mom and a splash of the previous tea kombucha. Will it work? Shockingly, the sap jar developed faster and matured faster than the tea jar next to it, which was a few days ahead of it.

I bottled the first batch and it is aMAZing.  I’m saying so myself.  It carbonates hard (under a week in bottle) and is nothing like any other kombucha I’ve tasted.  Light, very gingery, sweet.  Not distinctly mapley but bubbly like pop.

Did I mention we’re overwhelmed by sap?  I’ve got six gallons of maple kombucha underway right now.

And SO pretty in the bottles.
And SO pretty in the bottles. This is the second batch.

Then there has to be a Dog with Kombucha picture

Is your sap running? You’d better go catch it.

2015-03-25 11.32.59

Although we were late getting to it, the sap was late to run this year, due to this weather the Maritimes are having.  So, we are right on time. First warmish, sunny day, it’s about to begin..

2015-03-25 11.32.02We tapped six trees, just using little 1-2 gal food grade buckets.  Edit: Later we put aluminum foil hats on them (paranoid conspiracy buckets) with elastic bands.  Wasn’t pretty, but it worked, relatively.  Only lost two hats in the wind.

We don’t intend to boil down the sap to syrup, because we don’t have an outdoor cooking facility, so we’ll have to use it fresh.  We’ll just drink it, cook with it, drink it….

There’s nothing more divine than cold fresh maple sap. Perhaps it’s even healing.

2015-03-25 11.57.20
One of the very first drops, captured.

There is altogether too much snow around here still…