Thursday, April 28, 2011

Feelin' Kinda Sappy

I made mention that I was going to try and make birch syrup this year.  This is the first 2 bottles that were made.  I learned a lot in the week that I was boiling sap.  (and boiling sap, and boiling sap)  I now understand why a small bottle costs more than $7 at the grocery store.  It isn't because it is hard, but because of how little time you have to harvest, how much you have to harvest, and how long it takes to turn it into syrup. 

We tapped 10 trees to collect from each day.  We ended up getting between 4-6 gallons of sap per day.  That isn't much but it's a lot when you don't have a pot big enough to hold 6 gallons.
As you can see we didn't have actual taps, or fancy buckets...some tubing and some milk jugs.  I researched online as much as I could find on making birch syrup...and there isn't a lot on there on the how to's.  I did learn that it is a better syrup for diabetics, because it's frutcose not glucose so it doesn't spike the sugar.  I also learned why you have such a short amount of time to collect the sap.  The reason being that the sugar lays in the trunk for the winter until time for the trees to be "fed" in order to bloom.  You want to get that first run of "sugar" because after it is through the sap becomes bitter.  Back to the how to part we bought a new drill bit and tubing so that it would be clean....drilled a 3/8 in hole at an upward angle, inserted the tubing from the tree to the milk jug and then let it flow.  For next year one thing I will do differently is to drill a matching hole in top of the lids of the containers so that bugs and debris is limited even moreso. 

We then would bring the gallons back and run them thru a sieve/strainer into my pressure cooker...the only pot I had big enough to boil as much down in a day.  (oh and sap is only good for about 24 hours after goes can be put in the fridge to keep it a bit longer)   We could put about 4- 4 1/2 gals at one time into this one and then we started to boil.  As it boiled down I added the rest of the sap until it was all emptied.  This literally took all day.  I want to get an actual wood fired evaporator for next season....add it to my wish list.  I would let it boil down enough that I could put it into smaller pots and bring it inside on the stove and watch it the rest of the way.  The tricky part is knowing when it is actually done.  It isn't as thick as maple, it's got a carmely (if that is a word) flavor and gets darker as the week goes on. 

You would think that the best part of this experience would be getting the syrup and having the I did it feeling of accomplishment.  I'm very thankful for those, but the best is when I had a group of friends here who wanted to know how to do it, and I was the teacher so to speak.  They all left with their own gallon of sap to boil down that day.  I was excited when one of them went out and tapped her own trees the next day.  I'm so blessed to have friends who aren't afraid to try new things, that don't look at me like I'm crazy for trying, and get just as excited as I do over the small stuff.  I couldn't ask for better ladies in my life right now. 

So that is my syrup making experience.  I have a new appreciation for syrup of any kind because the process is all the same.  So another thing marked off on my try it list...gotta find more stuff to keep adding.  With that my newest news is my baby lamb is here (not home yet though) so handspinning wool is a definite have to learn this year.  Will be putting up pics of her soon....going to take the kids to see her on Saturday.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like an amazing adventure! Great job on all you learned and better yet, teaching others what you learned!