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Making Maple Syrup: It's Sugaring Season

A portrait of Susy, the author of Chiots Run.Last year we sugared our maples for the first time. We started late in the season, so we missed out on the prime sugaring season. We learned a lot though and have been on top of it this year. We’ve had perfect weather for sugaring here in Ohio. It’s been sunny and warm (well 40 degrees which is warm this time of year). The morning was frosty, with temps down in the teens. All the sap that was flowing the day before had stopped and was frozen in the spiles. It didn’t take long for them to thaw out with the sun and warmth.

Frozen maple sap

These are prime sugaring temps. You want it to be above freezing during the day and below freezing at night. The rest of this week and next week look like it’s going to be beautiful, especially for sugaring.

Collecting maple sap

At first we weren’t getting much sap so we saved it for about a week until we had 15-20 gallons. We stored it outside in big pots to keep it cool, since sap will spoil in warm weather. The sap is flowing nicely now, so we’re keeping up with it by boiling constantly. Mr Chiots heads out several times a day to collect sap.

Mr. Chiots collects sap

We bring it inside and we let it sit inside to warm up a bit. Then I strain it through a coffee filter into a big stock pot on the stove, this strains out any wood chips, sticks and any other dirt. We warm the sap in this stock pot and when it’s boiling we transfer it to big kettle that’s boiling outside. We do this to keep the big pot outside at a rolling boil, if you pour cold sap into it the boil will stop and it will take longer to reduce.

Filtering maple syrup

At the moment we’re reducing the sap over a big propane burner by the garage. Our fire pit is buried in snow, as is all the firewood. If the sap starts flowing more rapidly with the warm weather we’re going to start reducing half of the sap over the fire and make kettle syrup.

Boiling down maple sap

Do you sugar your maple trees?

I can also be found at Chiot’s Run, where I blog about organic gardening, local eating, and other weird stuff we do like sugaring maples and keeping bees, and over at Not Dabbling in Normal.