01 April 2013

The Making of Maple Syrup

       The other day we had a delivery truck come to pick up seven pallets of syrup. That is six thousand and nine hundred pounds of pure maple syrup to be delivered to a customer on the other side of the country. But that is not what this blog is about. It is about the young man driving the truck. He pulled up in his mammoth transporter which in itself seems way too large for our back country road but he maneuvers it with the ease of a professional. 
       As I approached the parked truck, he jumps out of the cab, shakes my hand as he tells me his name is Thomas, and then races into the sugar shack excited as a schoolboy. My husband was inside boiling sap in the evaporator. I followed Thomas with the paperwork for the pickup but knew it was futile to try and have him sign anything until he got a tour of the sugarhouse. He must have said one hundred times the word "WOW", at least eighty of the word "AMAZING" and after he tasted a sample, he said minimum five hundred times, "It's so good". 
      Thomas's life changed that day as he held onto the quarts of syrup I gave him, just as if I handed him a newborn baby to hold. His enthusiasm in seeing the process first hand made me realize that many people still do not know how maple syrup is produced. That is why I am sharing a photojournalist's approach to the making of maple syrup. Oh and I have to say, Thomas did tell me that one hundred percent pure maple syrup is far better than the stuff he gets at _________. You can fill in the restaurant. You can also check out these two great recipes. Maple Toffee and pancakes

 Maple Story in Pictures

That's us. John Thew made this sign. Can you see me waving in the doorway?
This is what it looks like outside when we start tapping and collecting sap.
not like this
The days of all buckets are gone
replaced with tubing for a more productive pace of collecting sap.
We start with tapping a spout into a tree.
Then we create a zigzag of tubing through the sugarbush
This tubing carries the sap to the sugarhouse 
or to collecting tanks.
Time to boil
A vacuum system draws sap from trees.
A pump sends the sap to a reverse osmosis machine to remove water from sap.
This creates a concentration of sap that becomes more efficient to boil.
The sap is gravity fed into this colossal evaporator called an intense o fire.
See why it is called that. It is HUGE and HOT.
Here is Meg checking the boil or maybe getting a steam facial.
The sweet smell of boiling sap is indescribable. It is addicting.
Rock, scissors, paper...who gets to stoke the fire.
Guess Wint won. 
He really stuffs it full.

Really FULL. Remember Wint, you have to close the door:)
Wonder who left the gloves on the HOT fire. 
This is the fine bubble in the front pan when the sap is almost syrup.
That's me looking at the temperature on our fancy computer system .
That's Wint not trusting our new system and testing the old fashioned way.
The hydrometer should read seven degrees above the boiling point of water for any given day. Usually 219.
There she pours!!!!!! Honest, that is all syrup.
When steam gets in your eyes.
The finishing process begins with filtering the syrup after we draw it off the evaporator.
This looks pretty but like many pretty faces, it takes a lot of work to keep it looking this good.
The different grades of syrup we produce, From Grade A light to Grade B dark, the most flavorful and popular.
We always take a picture at the 1000 gallon mark. Winter makes us..
Not done yet. It is clean up time Did I say YUCK out loud?
This process takes a long time, mainly because I am a bit OC when it comes to CLEAN.

That's it for another year. How sweet it was.

The happy family. A family that boils together, toils together. 
Noah worked just as hard but he was away the day of the family picture. I wish I knew how to superimpose.


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