Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Finishing

Mother Maple in Snow

Several snows have teased us, keeping us poised on the edge of spring, refreshing winter’s grip.
Almost daily, leaving a light covering taken again,
as if to say, “Not so soon.”
Patience for spring, tried and failing.


Carried slowly forward in the steps of this process, I know that its conclusion marks the arrival of spring. That, each day, and with each step, the grip is loosened.

The final step in the process of making maple syrup, aptly called “finishing,” takes the evaporated sap from the pan outdoors and brings it to the proper density indoors, over the stove. Of the entire operation, from the tapping of the trees until the syrup lines our shelves as amber in glass, this final step requires the most precision.


Out come the fancy tools of the trade, wrapped carefully in tissue and kept in a drawer, safely aside from all the other heavy kitchen utensils that might break its delicate, glass form. The hydrometer—a weighted float, calibrated and marked in fine black and red lines along its hollow, slender stem, to measure the specific gravity, the liquid’s density relative to that of water. And a hydrometer cup—a tall, thin, metal container that will hold a column of liquid for testing.
Hot liquid, ladled from a pot on the stove, and into the cup, is checked often, until the hydrometer floats in the column to just the right mark.

Boiling on stove

Hydrometer floating in hot liquid

Not dense enough, and mold may form over time within the saved liquid.
Too dense, and crystals may form within the jars.


So, as we are “finishing,”
so is winter, wrapping itself up,
releasing, finger by finger, its grasp.
And leaving us with amber in glass.

Amber in Glass


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41 comments:

Grace and Bradley said...

How nice to have real homemade maple syrup.

possumlady said...

Mmmmmm, homemade maple syrup!

Have you ever made maple creme? God, I can eat a whole jar of that. I think it is made just by whipping the maple syrup to a creaming texture.

TSannie said...

What a neat thing to do! We have not one maple in our entire yard...

Teresa said...

I love your blog...and I learned something of "finishing" too. Thank you for sharing : )

Heather said...

Thanks for all your posts on maple sugaring. I'd never 'seen' it before! I can just about smell it from your wonderful descriptions.

MojoMan said...

My neighbors have some venerable old sugar maples. I'm stuck with Norway maples. I've heard these invaders can be tapped, but I'm not motivated to do so.

Do you ever worry about all that evaporated water causing problems in the house?

Jeannette St.G. said...

I didn't know making the syrup was such a delicate process - thanks for sharing!
About winter, you would enjoy the poem I posted with my post Camellias (if you haven't done so already :) )

Cicero Sings said...

I was interested to read the finishing off process! How wonderful to have jars of your very own maple syrup lining your pantry shelves.

Rena said...

Really interesting! I'd always wondered about this process. Thanks.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

Mojo--I forgot to link back to the outdoor post--where we lose most of the water, probably 43 of the 44 gallons that are lost as steam in order to produce the one gallon of syrup.
Before we bought the evaporator, we boiled exclusively indoors, and would create a low-hanging cloud in the kitchen, trapped against the ceiling, unable to drop through a doorway and scoot out of the room. It was quite a spectacle!

KaHolly said...

Waiting for winter to loosen its grip on us here in Central Maine. Had an additional 18" dumped on us Sunday night into Monday and it is colllllld. But, gorgeous! Thanks for sharing the maple syrup process. A lot of work, but very satisfying when all is said and done.

Carolina said...

Yummy! Looks very good. Very informative posts.

ChrisC and JonJ said...

What a great post.I learned something today.We,in Florida,are also waiting for Spring.Only in the high 60's lately.Sorry about that.

naturglede said...

Greate to learn about mapel sirup.Love your post today. Have a fun abc:)

Wandering Alice said...

Beautiful! I'm really enjoying your blog. My mother and father tried to make maple syrup when they first moved back to the land in the 70s...but they boiled it down inside te house and got sticky residue on every surface of the kitchen-what a mess!

Babooshka said...

Now I just need some pancakes. Yummy post.

dguzman said...

Wow Nina--that's quite an investment of time, but well worth it.

Barb said...

Such a complicated process! Luckily, the syrup of your labor will be a just reward.

Deborah Godin said...

I had no idea there was so much art and science involved - not to mention the love.

NCmountainwoman said...

Great post. It must be wonderful to have your very own maple syrup. I will hope for the continued longevity of the mighty maple in your yard. BTW, is this the same maple the hummingbird nest was in?

Life with Kaishon said...

It is so fun to follow your process! I love it! Hope your week is happy!

nina at Nature Remains. said...

Yes, NCmountainwoman--Mother Maple is a wonderful tree. Giving us gold to remember winter weather by, and opening her arms to hummingbirds in spring!!

Leslie: said...

Before we returned home to BC after a 3-year stint back East, we made sure to stock up on Quebec maple syrup. It was SO sad to use the last drops of that precious gold...I sure miss it. Lucky you! :D

Mary said...

I admire your industrious nature, Nina. This post has made me long for pancakes.

Dreamybee said...

What an informative post, and a great picture of your tree too!

mon@rch said...

Nice Amber Coloring . . Thanks for sharing with us!

Bernie said...

Today's blog made me lonesome for NB as we use to love this time of year as we would go into the woods and collect the buckets from the tapped trees. Nothing like homemade syurp especially on Shrove Tuesday. Thank you for bringing back warm and fuzzy memories.

spacedlaw said...

So pretty and so good!
Great post.

Becky said...

Beautiful. What a delicate process. This has been so much fun to see, and your words and descriptions are so poetic.

Tyra in Vaxholm said...

Fabulous 'Amber in glass'

That whole process is so fantastic and the result even more.

Thank you for sharing this with us, it is so very nice to learn about new things.

xoxo Tyra

Adrienne in Ohio said...

I loved this poetic post as I find myself longing for spring, also. I remember seeing maple sugaring done when I was a little girl. I thought it was fascinating and delicious. (The demonstration concluded with a pancake breakfast and hot maple syrup.)

Appalachian Lady said...

I learned a lot from this post--about finishing. I love the beautiful jars of maple syrup.

Tammie Lee said...

Wonderful post! Fantastic that you make your own syrup, fun to see the process. And that tree image is wonderful.

Sherrie said...

Hi!
Tasty "F" post! Love that light shinning through the jars of syrup. Thanks for sharing that process. Have a great day!!

Sherrie

Carol said...

This was very interesting, I enjoyed reading about the maple syrup. Also like the photos of the trees with snow clinging to them, very pretty.

Tumblewords: said...

I loved the series - from the tapping to the capping. Your photos and words are excellent.

RuthieJ said...

Wow Nina, it's beautiful! I bet it tastes delicious! I remember years ago when I first tasted "real" maple syrup I wasn't too keen on it, but have since learned to love the flavor.

Dragonstar said...

I knew nothing about the making of maple syrup until reading this. It's obviously a long and time-consuming process. Fascinating!

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

I had no idea so much was involved in the finishing of maple syrup. While both labor and concentration intensive, the "Amber in Glass" result is beautiful and, I'm sure, very tasty.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Yummmm you are making me hungry. You have to stay focused while making syrup. A lot of effort but well worth it no doubt.

Carol said...

Nothing tastes so good as that you've collected and made yourself.

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