2016 maple syrup season
One thousand pounds of sap (hand carried) becomes about
40 pounds of syrup, just over 3.5 gallons.
Entire run required just under 70 pounds of LP gas.
Most of the syrup went into jars for storage and gifts:
5 quarts, 13 pints, 3 12oz'ers, and 2 half-pints.
- Feb 27:
Intended this year to sugar on the upper part of last
year's Maple Street but it is fairly steep.
Footing is too treacherous to get that deep into the woods so we
put 2 buckets out next to the driveway.
Both reds, only 1 virgin.
- Feb 28:
3 more buckets out (2 below the shop and 1 across Dog River)
2 reds, 1 sugar(!), all virgins.
- Mar 1:
2 more buckets out (south of the shop), both reds, both virgins.
Gathered about 2 gallons of sap from the previous 5 taps.
Lilac sap from the red virgin over the river, added it in.
We store the sap on (or near) the woodstove so it evaporates a bit
- Mar 5:
200 oz. of sap becomes about 30 oz. on the woodstove.
Cooked it off to get about 7 oz. of thin (218°) syrup.
Just in time: last year's small harvest is exhausted.
An inch of snow covers about half the ground. The snow is hard, icy and
too slippery to walk on. For the first time ever,
the bare forest floor is also too icy and slippery to walk on.
Waiting for better footing to put out the last 3 buckets.
- Mar 8:
Snow is finally on the run. All ten buckets are out: 9 reds, 8 virgins.
Thanked last year's trees for their precious sap, telling
them how much we enjoyed the resulting syrup and reassuring them
we wouldn't re-tap for many years (if ever).
- Mar 11:
Only meager runs so far. Some days, none at all.
- Mar 13:
Snow and ice gone. 2 days of good run. The sugar has outproduced
the reds for sap, a double bonus since it makes more syrup per
unit of sap as well. The red across the river has been consistently
giving lilac syrup (which we use). The tree on the pond overflowed
the bucket--I thought it was a red, is it possible it is a second sugar?
I cannot tell from the bark--I distinguish reds and sugars
from the color of the leaves in fall. We didn't intend to sugar by the pond,
I had been watching the other trees we'd picked, so I don't remember if
the pond maple is sugar or not.
The 2 runs total almost 20 gallons of sap. Started a boil
in the woodshed--expecting a half gallon of syrup.
- Mar 14:
Got 2 quarts, 1 pint, plus one cup of syrup. Very dark, reflecting the
long cooking time. Has a deep red-orange color. We'll start
using the cup immediately, the previous syrup is already
gone with the waffles.
- Mar 17:
We empty the buckets into a
5-gallon, food-safe pail. The sap goes through a linen napkin
in a colendar (to get rid of the leaves, bark, and bugs) and into
the 20-gallon kettle in the woodshed. Cooked down to less
than a gallon, it gets transferred to a small pot on the kitchen
stove. When it's syrup (219°), we dump it through a felt
filter (sterilized with boiling water) into sterilized Ball jars.
Some meager runs yields 10 gallons of sap. Got 2 pint jars of syrup.
- Mar 25:
Required many days of small runs to get enough to cook. 5 days of collection
yields 1 quart, 2 pints, and 1 12oz. jar of dark red syrup.
- Mar 27 (Easter):
Huge runs now. Collecting twice a day. Two days of collection cooks to
1 quart, 1 pint, 2 half-pints, 1 12oz. jar, plus 6oz. of beautiful golden syrup. Double filtered into small jars, perfect for gifts.
Also collected 14 gallons of sap just today, probably 3 more pints,
but ran out of gas for cooking.
- Mar 29:
Big runs continue. Got more gas, cooked off 3 pints, and a few spoonfuls
for the squirt bottle. Have another 20 gallons (half-gallon of syrup)
boiling in the kettle. Today is cold enough to slow the runs, so we can
- Mar 31:
Cooking in the woodshed, it looked like it would finish at 9:00. I fell
asleep, woke up at 10:00 in a panic. If the sugar burns, not only is the
syrup lost, but our expensive kettle is ruined as well. Ran to the shed
and found the gas had run out at 8:00. Whew!
- Apr 1:
Finished the 3/29 batch on the stove. Got 1 quart, 1 pint, 1 12oz,
and 4oz for the squirt bottle.
Had guests over for waffles. We used a pint from 3/25 which
did not seal and had to be used immediately. We gave our guests the
rest of the jar.
Cooked off the almost-ruined batch from last night. Got 3 pints
and refilled the bottle.
- Apr 7:
Cold weather returns with no runs.
After I have stress dreams of burning the sugar, my wife suggests
ending the season. I agree and pull the taps.
2015 maple syrup season
Made a total of 1.25 gallons of syrup using about 15 pounds
of LP gas: 9 pints canned, plus another pint in
open containers for immediate use.
- Apr 3:
The test bucket got only a few cups now and then in the
cold weather. We put out 5 more buckets when the temp
hit 60 and the sap was running fast.
- Apr 6:
Return of cold weather, so not much sap so far. Put out
the remaining 4 buckets, for a total of 10, as usual.
All the maples are reds, no sugars, all virgins, as usual.
- Apr 8:
First sap harvest: about 7 gallons, should be one pint of syrup.
- Apr 9:
Second sap harvest: about 5 gallons of syrup. Will start a cook
- Apr 11:
No sap for 2 days. Cooked about 17 gallons down to one quart,
2 pints, and a cup for the squirt bottle.
Our consulting industrial chemist suggested modifications to our burner system
costing a total of $3.10. Now cooking requires less than one half
the lp gas as previous years.
- Apr 13:
The rotting snow makes walking to the trees difficult.
In previous years we'd use snowshoes. This year, Maple
Street was a ski slope, so I invented
- Apr 14:
Sap is running poorly, buds are already coming.
Started a boil of about 6 gallons of sap.
- Apr 16:
Added 2 days of meager sap to the boil.
Cooked it off for 5 more pints of syrup.
Also added and re-cooked the first quart and pint I'd canned
since they were obviously incorrectly processed.
Got 9 pints total canned, plus another pint for our
- Apr 23:
Cold nights and warm days usually mean more sap, but
none is forthcoming. Buds are looking to burst, so
season is probably over.
- Apr 28:
Left the buckets up through weeks of below freezing nights
and above freezing days, the usual conditions for plenty of
sap. Since April 15, the buckets have been dry.
Took down the buckets; season is over.
2014 maple syrup season
Made a total of 1.8 gallons, about 20 pounds, using about 70 pounds
of LP gas: 3 quarts, 5 pints, 6 half-pints, plus nearly a half-pint
more for my son's maple-smoked duck and
several rounds of my wife's delicious, delicious waffles.
- Apr 1:
I tapped the bottom of the test bucket with my ski pole.
For weeks I'd been hearing the hollow boom of an empty bucket.
This morning I got a dull thud—sap in the bucket! A floating
ice disk meant the sap started running yesterday!
I'm already a day behind.
Over the last few weeks I made a wide snowshoe path—I call
it Maple Street—for the sap sled.
Maple Street can be seen in the photo above—and at
least 6 sap buckets are also visible (can you find them?).
I'd made a separate spur from
the path to each of this year's 11 tappable trees (all syrup virgins).
I washed out 6 buckets and
snowshoed up Maple Street with the sled full of buckets, caps, taps and
an auger. I tapped the first 6 maples, 7 total counting the test tree.
The sap is nearly pouring out today.
- Apr 2:
Got the final 3 buckets out, 10 total. It's possible
the 11th tree I had picked is
actually on our neighbor's property. Although the
sweetest syrup comes from poached sap, we did not tap it.
First purple sap we've ever seen, from our oldest, largest maple.
Turned a half bucketful of sap a pretty lilac color. Did not use.
Internet research suggests we tapped a smurf.
2 days of gathering before it turned cold gave 9 gallons sap, 1150 oz.
Should yield 23 oz.—a pint and a half—of syrup at our usual 50:1.
First runs are often more sugary, and sure enough, got 38 oz.: a
pint, 2 half-pints, and 6 oz. for the squirt bottle. Almost 30:1,
a record yield.
As this photo of the pint jar shows, it's the
most beautiful syrup ever made.
Second batch: 1 quart and 1 pint exactly, none for the squirt bottle.
Above-freezing nights have slowed the sap run considerably.
Third batch: 1 quart and 1 pint exactly, none for the squirt bottle.
We now have one gallon of syrup put by.
Fourth batch: 1 quart, 1 pint, 1 half-pint and a few spoonfuls
for the squirt bottle. Almost a gallon and a half so far this year.
We've dug out the remainder from 2013: 1 quart and 1 half-pint;
so we now have 1.75 gallons of syrup total put by.
Since that is the amount we used last year, I am thinking of
stopping now. The snow is gone and the woods are very, very muddy.
Stomping to the maples now will make the temporary path quite permanent.
Warm weather, fitful runs.
Before we got enough sap for a decent cook, started to ferment in
storage. Dumped the sap.
The return of cold nights, and frozen paths, meant a good run.
Started a boil of about 15 gallons at 5pm Saturday. A first: put all
15 gallons into the kettle at once. Boiled without stop until 2pm
Sunday, 21 hours.
Tried to get lots of small containers for gifts.
Filtered it directly into the jars. That's harder
than doing it just before the final cook in a saucepan,
but makes for prettier syrup—better gifts.
Got 1 pint and 3 half-pints and a few spoonfuls
for the squirt bottle. One of my sons,
home for Easter, took one of the half-pints
back to the city.
Muddy paths, hot weather, first buds, and other projects all add up
to an early termination of the season. Also, at about $1/lb for LP,
we can afford only so much syrup. My wife emptied the buckets,
pulled the taps. Season officially over.
Gave away a pint of the Easter syrup to neighbors, a half-pint
to my brother and sister-in-law, and a half-pint to my
wife's mother. All of the Easter syrup has been given away.
Our small-batch gift syrup is rare beyond
price: no amount of money can buy it, but it's free
if you know the right guy.
2013 maple syrup season
We've converted 800 pounds of sap (hauled by hand)
plus 80 pounds of LP gas into about 25 pounds of product...
over 2 gallons of homemade maple syrup.
- Mar 8:
Got 10 taps out by March 6. Two days of collecting has yielded about
4 gallons of sap. We'll start a boil today or tomorrow. Just in time:
we ran out of syrup about 3 weeks ago.
- Mar 9:
Waffles this morning with newly made maple syrup. Mmmm.
- Mar 11:
First collections yield 1 quart plus 1 pint plus 1 half-pint
plus a few ounces for the squirt bottle in the fridge.
The new felt filter is amazing. I can say, as one who
has attended his share of county fairs, our syrup this year
is blue-ribbon quality.
The half-pint was given away to a neighbor who came by
with her grandkids on a sugaring day.
- Mar 14:
No sap run, no syrup for 3 days. I boiled what was in
the pipeline (emptied buckets and kettle into pot on the
stove). About a gallon of sap so I expected a few precious
tablespoons of syrup. Unfortunately, I burned the batch
on the stove and the sap, energy, and effort was lost.
- Mar 27:
Sap started running again and 3 days of collection yielded
about 12 gallons of sap. I got 2 pint jars of syrup
plus about 4 oz. left over for our squirt bottle.
- Apr 2:
Sap coming in fits and starts.
A tiny 3 gallon run at the end of March yielded a
single pint. I poured it off as 2 half pints: the first
a regular mason jar, the second a recycled juice bottle.
I was curious if the bottle lid would reseal,
and it did perfectly. This was particularly surprising
as the syrup was not extremely hot when I put the lid on--
because it took a full 20 minutes for that second half pint to drip through
the felt filter.
- Apr 8:
Massive sap runs now. It took 4 days of cooking to
get about 24 gallons of sap down
to less than a gallon in the gas kettle
(which holds 5 gallons).
I cooked that down on the kitchen stove and got
2 quart jars full of some of the most beautiful syrup
in New Hampshire.
I've put up a total of 1.5 gallons so far.
The kettle is cooking now and there's
12 more gallons of sap waiting to cook, so another
half gallon of product is not out of the question.
- Apr 11:
Didn't quite get the hoped-for half gallon, but got 3 pints
canned as 2 pint jars and 2 half-pints. A perfect batch:
best cooking (so perfect viscosity) and first hint of bud (so perfect color).
Will make great gifts, so I'm glad I got several small jars.
- Apr 15:
The runs last week gave a batch that cooked down
(in three days)
to a quart and a pint and a half-pint
and a tablespoon for the squirt bottle.
- Apr 16:
Collected a last batch of about 8 gallons of sap,
took down the buckets, and pulled the taps.
- Apr 19:
Cooked a final pint and half-pint (plus refilled the squirt bottle).
Gave the half-pint to our neighbors (for birdsitting).
Our larder now contains
And the half-pint squirt bottle has been filled twice
(we've been having lots of my wife's waffles).
- 4 quarts
- 7 pints
- 6 half-pints.
2012 maple syrup season
Mar 7: Tapped 6 maples and hung the buckets. Last year, 6 buckets got
us about 60 gallons of sap, 5 quarts of syrup. That turned out to be
one year's worth: we are down to our last cupful this week.
Mar 22: So far, only two and a half pints of syrup.
It's so unseasonably hot, the sap has stopped running. In fact, the last few
days of sap fermented on the trees before there was enough to cook.
Maybe the season will restart with the return of cold weather.
Check out our high tech sugaring process.
Apr 1: Some snowy nights and the sap is back.
The buds are holding off.
Two days of sap and two days of cooking have yielded another
My wife has unearthed a quart left over
from the 2010 season, so we have nearly
3 quarts put by.
Apr 9: A final 2 days run on the 4th & 5th
gave us about 3 gallons of sap, which made our last
half-pint of syrup (that's about 50:1). But there's
been no sap since, so we pulled the taps out today.
PDQ Instant Egg Nog