A couple of weeks ago, we embarked on a pretty sweet (literally!) project here at the farm in Highland County.
On a beautifully sunny early spring day we tapped 23 sugar maples and hooked them all up to hoses that would carry maple water into the main line. . .
. . . and into a 300 gallon collection tank.
About a week later, when the tank was a little less than two-thirds full, we securely strapped it to the trailer it had been sitting on and towed it downhill to the farm to begin boiling it down.
While the pan was filling, we built and lit a (soon to be) very large fire.
After a while, we started to get some steam. That was soon followed by more steam. And sunset. . .
We boiled late into the night (and early the following morning). Thankfully we had a roaring fire. When we stopped for the night, we'd boiled 130-140 gallons of maple water down to about 15 gallons. We drained the almost-syrup into the finishing pan and covered it to keep out insects, dirt, and other intruders.
Starting (relatively) fresh in the morning, we lit the propane burner under the finishing pan and started again.
Soon we had a nice rolling boil, and after a while, something that was starting to look a lot like maple syrup.
By the time we'd poured the syrup off into a large stockpot for the final boil we were down to about five gallons of beautiful, delicious amber liquid.
We brought it back to a boil and kept a close watch, skimming foam off the top periodically. That foam, by the way, might just be the best thing ever.
When we'd decided it was finished we let it cool down a bit and poured it into jars.
And finally, after two very long days and not much sleep, we had a little more than 4 gallons of maple syrup. More than enough for this year's farm fellowship and all in all a pretty sweet deal.
Many thanks to Pen Goodall for the use of his equipment, his help, and his expertise.
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