Monday, February 16, 2009

Evaporation

Steam rising from the Boil

It is a crisp and bright morning.
The sun just rising, fire started.
A cool, light breeze will carry the water away.
By sunset, all but the sweetness of maple, gone.

Maple syrup, what many unknowingly believe readily oozes from a Sugar Maple as pitch would ooze from a gash in a pine tree, is actually the final product resulting from the process of sap evaporation. The sap, a clear, water-like liquid collected by the gallons from tapped trees on the first warming days of spring, contains, by volume, less than 5% sugar. By boiling off most of this liquid, through evaporation, the precious syrup is produced—an amber substance, 67% sugar.

Because even the scant amount of sugar in collected sap spoils quickly, we hold just a small gathering tank, pouring from the buckets as they fill on the trees, and keeping it well chilled for the days we wait, preparing to boil. Then, in the yard, the arch is constructed--a structure to support a large evaporating pan and create draft for the fire built beneath it.
From a pile of cinder blocks and stovepipe—voila!

Constructing the Arch, level, for Evaporator Pan

Boiling Sap in the Yard

Throughout the day, the fire is tended-- sticks from the yard collected, scrap wood from the year’s odd building projects cleared.
And the steam pours off the surface of the rolling, boiling liquid in the broad, flat pan.
Gallons are added, as the sap boils and boils.
And the gathering tank soon is emptied.


A hint of color now bubbles within,
and the slightest of sweet smells drifts in waves across the yard as the breeze turns it over and over, before taking it away.

Pouring off boiled sap through filter

We must finish this syrup indoors, another day--on stove top, where more control allows better monitoring.
So, for now, in the cold darkness, we pour it carefully off and warm our fingers and toes around the day’s bed of coals.
The warm glow feels good against our faces.
Imagining, someday soon, pancakes.

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31 comments:

bobbie said...

A long, loving process. And oh, so good at the end!

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Sounds like a very labor intensive job.I am sure in the end it is worth all the effort.
Blessings,Ruth

mon@rch said...

hmm . . pancakes ready yet?

Jeannette St.G. said...

guess the maple syrup must be worth all the work?

Kiggavik said...

I can close my eyes and imagine standing in your yard, watching the steam lift and curl and smelling slight sweetness.

Thank you for that.

Wren said...

I had no idea it was so much work!

KaHolly said...

Mmmmmm..mmm.mm! Fresh maple syrup over vanilla ice cream. Soon the sugar shack here will be in operation. After viewing your post, I can't wait!!

Toni said...

yum once you taste real maple syrup you never go back to the fake stuff. I always loved this time of year when I lived on the farm and tapping trees.

Appalachian Lady said...

I remember my mom and dad doing this on the farm one year. It took 30 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. So, they didn't do it anymore.

On the latest post, I had a questions about the sap. Does it only run on warm days? Do you have to drill new holes all the time?

Appalachian Lady said...

I went back and read your other maple sugar posts. I think they answered the question. So, you need a warm day but cold, freezing night for the sap to flow?

My question was prompted by a note on sapsucker holes on my latest post. Thanks for being patient.

Cicero Sings said...

I seems all good things come with hard work!! I can't believe you make your own maple syrup. How yum is that? No maples in our neck of the woods but there is a birch syrup farm up in Quesnel ... two of them in fact.

Deborah Godin said...

I'll bet the aroma is quite something. Once I was visiting north of Hull, Quebec in spring, and got to taste the sap right from the tree - I almost forgotten about it til you posted this. It was watery and tasted very faintly like maple syrup. wonderful experience! I never got to see the entire proces though. That would be something.

Carolina said...

Watching your photos and reading your post I could almost smell it. Lekker!

Maple syrup isn't available everywhere in Holland. We really have to look for it. But I know it tastes good!

Deslilas said...

Mouth-watering post and comments !

JoAnn's-D-Eyes said...

EVA... what?
haha :) just kidding you NINA,
interesting how the progress is going, as said, we have not Maple leaf here in Holland, but I know the taste, a bit bitter isn't it?

Happy ABC
from JoAnn's D Eyes/Holland

www.joannwalraven.blogspot.com

RuneE said...

A nice post about something that is totally foreign to me - so you have taught me something. Thank you!

Reader Wil said...

It looks like a time consuming process but worth the work you put in it. The maple syrup must be extraordinarily delicious! Actually I know it is, for I have tasted it once. I learn new things any time I go visiting other blogs.

naturglede said...

I love to read about the prosess. I never seen it before. It must taste good to the pancakes. Have a fun abc:)

Tyra in Vaxholm said...

Thank you for this very informative post, I love to learn something new each day. Most fascinating and it must taste wonderful when you have done it by yourself.

Tyra

ChrisC and JonJ said...

I would love some of that maple syrup right now.I can almost smell it.

Janie said...

MMm, I can smell that maple sugar and imagine the pancakes. How interesting to learn more about how maple sugar is made. It's a lot of work, for sure.

Granny Smith said...

Yum! Waffles! Ice cream! I have a granddaughter in Vermont who sends me a gift of maple syrup from time to time.

nessabates said...

and when can I try some :) That is a bunch of work! Sounds yummy though!!

D Herrod said...

Very creative.

Carol said...

A good E post...very interesting...I am also from Southwest Ohio...

Tumblewords: said...

I'm loving this syrup making process. I already knew I loved the outcome...!

photowannabe said...

Very interesting and original post for the letter E. I don't think anyone else is posting evaporation. Good one.

spacedlaw said...

Wonderful post! Thanks for the information.

Life with Kaishon said...

Wow. That is so interesting! I always love coming here and learning new things!

Jay said...

I read about how maple syrup was made from the sap quite recently, but there were no pictures, so thank you! Now I have a much better understanding. :)

dulce said...

A magic word: pancakes :-)
Have a nice week