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Posts Tagged ‘maple syrup’

Gastronomically yours,

February 19th, 2017

A DIY approach to Maple Syrup

When the nights are below freezing and the days are mild you can be sure of some things, like the coming of spring, the deadline for filing your tax returns and a new season of local harvesting. This seasonal change in the weather makes the sap flow and represents the region’s premier crop harvest of Maple Syrup.

Tapped Sugar Maple producing sap for maple syrup

It usually takes about forty years before a Sugar Maple will reach the recommended tappable size of being 10 inches in diameter. The tap hole is usually placed about waist high on the tree, and 3 to 4” from any previous taps. It is bored 3″ into the sapwood. Larger trees may take numerous taps. For every additional 8″ in diameter another tap hole may be added. A tree 26″ in diameter could have up to three taps. I’ve been told that trees with lots of branches are better producers than those trees with smaller tops. During the 4-6 week syrup season, a single tap hole can yield up to ten gallons of sap or about one quart of maple syrup.

After tapping the tree a metal spout called a spile is tapped snugly into the hole, and a bucket is hung from a hook on the spout. A cover is put on the bucket to keep out rain, snow, and debris. If a plastic tubing system is used to collect the sap, a plastic spout is tapped into the hole and is then connected to a network of tubes that creates a pipeline system.

When all of the trees have been tapped, the syrup producer is ready for the “first run,” this is when the sap first starts to flow. Sap flow requires freezing nights and warm days. These must alternate and be in a long enough series to allow the sap to move through the trees. Prolonged periods of either below freezing temperatures or days without freezing nights will stop the sap flow.

Maple sap comes from the tree as a clear, slightly sweet liquid that is approximately 98% water and 2% sugar. When the syrup is finished these ratios change to 33% water and 67% sugar.

When the bucket collection method is used, a sap-gathering tank is mounted on a sled or a wagon that is moved through the sugar bush as the sap is gathered. Tractors are most regularly used, but sometimes teams of horses pull the sleds or wagons. Workers using large gathering pails collect the sap from each tree. These pails are dumped into the gathering tank, which is then taken to a large sap storage tank at the sugarhouse, where it will be boiled down into maple syrup. If the tubing system is being used, the sap drips from the tap hole into a section of tubing. This tubing eventually connects into a larger pipeline called a “mainline.” The mainline carries the sap downhill to a sap storage tank either at the sugarhouse, or at a low spot where it can be collected easily and transported to the sugarhouse.

Maple syrup is traditionally made in a building called a sugarhouse or sugar shack. This name comes from the time when most sap was actually turned into sugar. It wasn’t until the late 1800’s when the drastic price reduction of cane sugar caused maple sugar sales to drop resulting in the production of the more profitable maple syrup.

Each sugarhouse contains an evaporator that is used to boil down the sap into syrup. Evaporators are made up of one or more flat pans, which sit on a type of firebox. Wood or oil, and sometimes gas is burned at the front end, and the flames are drawn along the underside of the pan, heating and boiling the sap as it travels towards the back of the pan. It takes about one cord of wood or sixty gallons of oil to boil down 800 gallons of sap into syrup. Sugarhouses have a vent on their roofs, a cupola, which is opened to allow the steam of the boiling syrup to escape the building. Steam rising from the cupola is a signal that maple syrup season is under way.

An evaporator pan is divided into partitions, so that the sap is continuously flowing through the pan. Fresh sap enters at the back of the pan, where a float valve keeps the sap about an inch deep. As the sap boils the liquid becomes sweeter, and begins to move towards the front of the pan, traveling through the partitions and more fresh sap is allowed into the rear of the pan.

The syrup maker concentrates their attention to the front of the evaporator where the boiling sap is turning a golden colour as it approaches being maple syrup. The temperature of this boiling liquid must be checked regularly for when it reaches 7.5 °f above the boiling point of water, it has reached the proper density and has become maple syrup.

At this stage a valve on the front of the pan is opened and some of the finished boiling syrup is drawn off the pan and is filtered. After filtering, the syrup is bottled and is ready for a fresh pile of warm pancakes.

Last year I spent $200 on equipment and $60 on propane and was able to produce over 4-gallons of my own maple syrup. Considering that a gallon of syrup costs around $60 this is a very economical approach to enjoying maple syrup. The amount of work involved in making these 4-gallons was rather shocking and makes purchasing locally produced syrup seem like a bargain at $60 a gallon.

 

Homemade Maple Syrup

If you have a few sugar maple trees, you can make your own maple syrup. I strongly recommend not boiling sap inside your house.

You will need the following

Cordless drill with a 7/16” bit

Spigots and metal or plastic pails with lids. Felt syrup filter. Available at TSC stores

Large plastic pails for storing freshly gathered sap

Outdoor cooker with pot available at hardware stores

Full propane tank and a back up tank

Candy thermometer.

Clean glass jars that will seal for storing your syrup

 

How to make your own syrup

Be sure your trees are sugar maples

Drill a 7/16″ hole 3″ deep at waist height into unblemished bark. Drive the spigot in so that it is tight and cannot be pulled out by hand, but don’t over do it and split the tree. Hang your bucket on the hook of the spout. Be sure to cover the bucket with a lid.

Once the sap has started to run and you have enough in your buckets to fill your boiling pot two-thirds full, you are ready to fire up the burner. Do not overfill your pot, as it will boil over. As the water evaporates, add more sap to the pot. Do not have less than an inch of liquid in the pot as it may burn. You can add cold sap right into the boiling sap. It will take a lot of boiling to get it to become syrup. Remember that 40 gallons of sap make one gallon of maple syrup. Do not leave an accumulation of sap in the collecting buckets especially in warm weather, as the sap will sour. Keep the sap as cold as possible and boil it as soon as you can. Finished maple syrup will be 7.5 °f. above the temperature of boiling water at your elevation, check this with your candy thermometer. I like to use a hydrometer to tell me when my syrup is done. Proper syrup will weigh at least 11 pounds per gallon. Do not go beyond 11 1/4 pounds per gallon or it may form crystals in the bottom of the storage container.

Pour finished hot syrup through a felt syrup filter or strainer. Sediment will settle to the bottom of the jars and clearer syrup may be carefully poured off the top. I leave the sediment in my syrup, as it is a concentration of calcium and other minerals.

Pour the hot syrup into the clean, sterile canning jars and seal. Fill them full so that very little air will be in the jar. If laid on their side while cooling a better seal will result. Store syrup in a cool place. The freezer is ideal and properly prepared syrup will not freeze and a poor seal will not be as important when stored in a freezer.

If proper taping procedures are followed, tapping will not endanger the health and vitality of your trees as a healthy sugar maple can provide sap every year for a hundred years or more.

 

 

 

 

Gastronomically yours,

March 8th, 2015

Maple Wine at Home
Mead often makes one think of mythical times, strange creatures and folklore.

The term honeymoon and its practice are still common in today’s weddings.

This term comes from the custom of drinking fermented honey based beverages for a moon or month after your wedding.

It was believed that this practice ensured the birth of a son.
Mead is traditionally made from honey and water that has been fermented with yeast.

This alcoholic beverage is considered to be the godfather of fermented beverages.

Its discovery dates back to 7000 BC and are believed to have originated in China.
Mead is sometimes called honey wine as its alcohol content can range from 4-12% by volume.

Melomel is mead made with the addition of fruit or fruit juice and may also contain spices.

A Pyment is mead produced with the addition of grapes or grape juice which can also be spiced up into a Hippocras.

Sack mead is stronger tasting mead which contains much more honey than regular mead.

Williams-Sonoma Homemade Mead Kit is available on-line

Williams-Sonoma Homemade Mead Kit is available on-line

The warmer weather has got me thinking about the upcoming maple syrup season and everything you can make with maple syrup.

Maple sugaring has been an early spring tradition in eastern Canada ever since the native peoples of the Eastern Woodlands discovered that maple sap cooked over an open fire produces a sweet sugar.

Maple syrup

Maple syrup

Maple wine can be made in the same manner as mead.

All that is different is that we use maple syrup instead of honey and it is usually ready to drink in half the time that it takes to make the traditionally honey laced mead.
Maple wine will become crystal clear with a delicate amber color within 60 days. Mead takes about 100 days to clarify.

If you choose to bottle the maple wine before it is clear, it will clarify in the bottles as the sediment settles.
Maple Wine at Home
Ingredients:

7 litres maple syrup

5 teaspoons yeast nutrient

15 grams white wine yeast

20 litres of cold water

Procedure:
Dissolve the yeast nutrient in some hot water. Gently hydrate the wine yeast in warm water. Mix the maple syrup with cold water in a large open container. Pour the dissolved yeast and yeast nutrients, into a glass carboy and pour in the watered down syrup. Use a blow off tube for the first four days to allow the rapidly produced gasses to escape. After which you should switch the blow off tube for a water trap. After about 60 days, when the maple wine is crystal clear and you can bottle your maple wine. I tend to use yeast nutrient and plenty of yeast for starter, when making maple wine, mead or ginger beer so that the fermentation happens rapidly. This quickly produces a high alcohol content and kills off any unwanted bacteria.

Maple Icewine available at banffgifts.ca

Maple Icewine available at banffgifts.ca

 

 

 

Looking for a new freezer? We sell upright freezers that are designed and built exclusively for the All-Natural Food Council of North America. For details please conact me at thechef@chefbrianhenry.com

Looking for a new freezer? We sell upright freezers that are designed and built exclusively for the All-Natural Food Council of North America. For details please conact me at thechef@chefbrianhenry.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gastronomically yours,

March 7th, 2015

Liquid Gold Rush

When the nights are below freezing and the days are mild you can be sure of some things,

like the coming of spring, the deadline for filing your tax returns and a new season of local harvesting.

This seasonal change in the weather makes the sap flow and represents the region’s premier crop harvest of Maple Syrup.

The sap is starting to flow from a freshly tapped maple tree

The sap is starting to flow from a freshly tapped maple tree

It usually takes about forty years before a Sugar Maple will reach the recommended tappable size of being 10 inches in diameter.

The tap hole is usually placed about waist high on the tree, and 3 to 4” from any previous taps.

It is bored 3″ into the sapwood. Larger trees may take numerous taps.

For every additional 8″ in diameter another tap hole may be added. A tree 26″ in diameter could have up to three taps.

I’ve been told that trees with lots of branches are better producers than those trees with smaller tops.

During the 4-6 week syrup season, a single tap hole can yield up to ten gallons of sap or about one quart of maple syrup.

After tapping the tree a metal spout called a spile is tapped snugly into the hole, and a bucket is hung from a hook on the spout.

A cover is put on the bucket to keep out rain, snow, and debris.

If a plastic tubing system is used to collect the sap, a plastic spout is tapped into the hole and is then connected to a network of tubes that creates a pipeline system.

When all of the trees have been tapped, the syrup producer is ready for the “first run,” this is when the sap first starts to flow. Sap flow requires freezing nights and warm days. These must alternate and be in a long enough series to allow the sap to move through the trees. Prolonged periods of either below freezing temperatures or days without freezing nights will stop the sap flow.

Maple sap comes from the tree as a clear, slightly sweet liquid that is approximately 98% water and 2% sugar. When the syrup is finished these ratios change to 33% water and 67% sugar.

Sap harvested in buckets

Sap harvested in buckets

When the bucket collection method is used, a sap-gathering tank is mounted on a sled or a wagon that is moved through the sugar bush as the sap is gathered.

Tractors are most regularly used, but sometimes teams of horses pull the sleds or wagons. Workers using large gathering pails collect the sap from each tree.

These pails are dumped into the gathering tank, which is then taken to a large sap storage tank at the sugarhouse, where it will be boiled down into maple syrup.

If the tubing system is being used, the sap drips from the tap hole into a section of tubing. This tubing eventually connects into a larger pipeline called a “mainline.”

The mainline carries the sap downhill to a sap storage tank either at the sugarhouse, or at a low spot where it can be collected easily and transported to the sugarhouse.

Maple syrup is traditionally made in a building called a sugarhouse or sugar shack.

This name comes from the time when most sap was actually turned into sugar.

Tapped Sugar Maple producing sap for maple syrup

Tapped Sugar Maple producing sap for maple syrup

 

It wasn’t until the late 1800’s when the drastic price reduction of cane sugar caused maple sugar sales to drop resulting in the production of the more profitable maple syrup.

Each sugarhouse contains an evaporator that is used to boil down the sap into syrup.

Evaporators are made up of one or more flat pans, which sit on a type of firebox.

Wood or oil, and sometimes gas is burned at the front end, and the flames are drawn along the underside of the pan,

heating and boiling the sap as it travels towards the back of the pan.

It takes about one bush cord of wood or sixty gallons of oil to boil down 800 gallons of sap into syrup.

Sugarhouses have a vent on their roofs, a cupola, which is opened to allow the steam of the boiling syrup to escape the building.

Steam rising from the cupola is a signal that maple syrup season is under way.

An evaporator pan is divided into partitions, so that the sap is continuously flowing through the pan.

Fresh sap enters at the back of the pan, where a float valve keeps the sap about an inch deep. As the sap boils the liquid becomes sweeter, and begins to move towards the front of the pan, traveling through the partitions and more fresh sap is allowed into the rear of the pan.

The syrup maker concentrates their attention to the front of the evaporator where the boiling sap is turning a golden colour as it approaches being maple syrup. The temperature of this boiling liquid must be checked regularly for when it reaches 7.5 °f above the boiling point of water, it has reached the proper density and has become maple syrup.

At this stage a valve on the front of the pan is opened and some of the finished boiling syrup is drawn off the pan and is filtered. After filtering, the syrup is bottled and is ready for a fresh pile of warm pancakes.

Last year I spent $200 on equipment and $60 on propane and was able to produce over 4-gallons of my own maple syrup. Considering that a gallon of syrup costs around $60 this is a very economical approach to enjoying maple syrup. The amount of work involved in making these 4-gallons was rather shocking and makes purchasing locally produced syrup seem like a bargain at $60 a gallon.

 

Homemade Maple Syrup

If you have a few sugar maple trees, you can make your own maple syrup. I strongly recommend not boiling sap inside your house.

You will need the following

Cordless drill with a 7/16” bit

Spigots and metal or plastic pails with lids. Felt syrup filter. Available at TSC stores

Large plastic pails for storing freshly gathered sap

Outdoor cooker with pot available at hardware stores

Full propane tank and a back up tank

Candy thermometer.

Clean glass jars that will seal for storing your syrup

 

How to make your own syrup

Be sure your trees are sugar maples

Drill a 7/16″ hole 3″ deep at waist height into unblemished bark. Drive the spigot in so that it is tight and cannot be pulled out by hand, but don’t over do it and split the tree. Hang your bucket on the hook of the spout. Be sure to cover the bucket with a lid.

Once the sap has started to run and you have enough in your buckets to fill your boiling pot two-thirds full, you are ready to fire up the burner. Do not overfill your pot, as it will boil over. As the water evaporates, add more sap to the pot. Do not have less than an inch of liquid in the pot as it may burn. You can add cold sap right into the boiling sap. It will take a lot of boiling to get it to become syrup. Remember that 40 gallons of sap make one gallon of maple syrup. Do not leave an accumulation of sap in the collecting buckets especially in warm weather, as the sap will sour. Keep the sap as cold as possible and boil it as soon as you can. Finished maple syrup will be 7.5 °f. above the temperature of boiling water at your elevation, check this with your candy thermometer. I like to use a hydrometer to tell me when my syrup is done. Proper syrup will weigh at least 11 pounds per gallon. Do not go beyond 11 1/4 pounds per gallon or it may form crystals in the bottom of the storage container.

Pour finished hot syrup through a felt syrup filter or strainer. Sediment will settle to the bottom of the jars and clearer syrup may be carefully poured off the top. I leave the sediment in my syrup, as it is a concentration of calcium and other minerals.

Pour the hot syrup into the clean, sterile canning jars and seal. Fill them full so that very little air will be in the jar. If laid on their side while cooling a better seal will result. Store syrup in a cool place. The freezer is ideal and properly prepared syrup will not freeze and a poor seal will not be as important when stored in a freezer.

If proper taping procedures are followed, tapping will not endanger the health and vitality of your trees as a healthy sugar maple can provide sap every year for a hundred years or more.

Gastronomically yours,

April 11th, 2014

A drop in the bucket

The maple sugaring season starts by breaking trails through a winters worth of snow. You haul buckets, tubing and the tools needed to mount them to maple trees. Once installed you listen for the sound of the maple sap harvest to begin as it unfolds one drop at a time, and you busy yourself with cutting wood and early forest management practices.

sugarmaple

As the day’s progress and the weather warms, the sap’s dripping becomes almost a trickle and you begin to focus your attention on the collecting and the rendering stage of maple syrup production.

The boiling stage of making syrup requires a watchful eye. You need to keep your fires burning and take the temperature frequently in the final moments to make sure you syrup finishes at the correct temperature. I have lost a few good pans and gallons of syrup to neglect in the past.

 

As the maple sugaring season draws to a close you can find yourself in a tsunami of sap and it can be a challenge keeping up to with all those drops in the bucket. Sometimes you go without sleep in these last days of syrup making which can influence your thoughts at times.

It’s in these moments that I find myself surrounded with so much sap, partially boiled syrup and finished syrup that I begin experimenting with different recipes. Using the syrup when it’s about half way to being syrup I like to use it for making sorbet, poaching eggs or salmon and running through the coffee maker instead of water.

mapleleibowski

This year I’ve taken to drinking my sap and syrup more so than cooking with it. As a result I’ve been able to create some of my own original cocktail recipes which I’m going to share here with you first.

The recipes are easy to prepare and can be enjoyed either with or without the alcohol listed in the recipes. If you do not have access to partially boiled sap you can substitute water downed maple syrup just make sure you are using Pure Maple Syrup and not table syrup.

 

Kawartha Steamer

Ingredients:

3oz half boiled syrup

4oz whole fat milk

1½ oz. Canadian Vodka

 

Method:

Heat the syrup and the milk up to 90 °c and pour them into a coffee mug. Pour in the vodka and sip away. If you have a method for steaming and frothing your milk combine the ingredients and froth it up.

steamer

North Kawarthan

This is the same as the Kawartha Steamer with the variation being that it is served chilled over ice in a rocks glass.

mapleice

Kawartha Kicker

This is the same as the Kawartha Steamer with the variation of using Canadian Whiskey in place of vodka.

maple cap

Kawartha Colada

Ingredients:

3oz half boiled syrup

1½ oz. spiced rum

4oz whole fat milk

3 oz. pineapple juice

1 cup crushed ice

 

Method:

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend the ingredients together on medium speed until all of the ingredients are evenly incorporated. A Kawartha Colada should be smooth, sweet, and creamy. Pour the ingredients into a cocktail glass and enjoy.

 

Kawartha Coffee

Ingredients:

3oz half boiled syrup

1oz whole fat milk

1 ½ oz Canadian Whiskey

4oz fresh brewed coffee

 

Method:

Heat the syrup and the milk up to 90 °c and pour them into a coffee mug. Pour in the whiskey and top it up with coffee.

maplecap

Kawartha Cappuccino

Ingredients:

2oz half boiled syrup

2oz whole fat milk

1½ oz. spiced rum

3 oz. fresh brewed coffee

Ground cinnamon

Whipped cream (optional)

Method:

Heat the syrup and the milk up to 90 °c and pour them into a coffee mug. Pour in the spiced rum and top up with coffee. If you have a method for steaming and frothing your milk combine the ingredients and froth it up. Top with ground cinnamon and or whipped cream.
syrupspoon

 

 

 

 

Gastronomically yours,

March 12th, 2014

March a reason to celebrate…

March is no doubt a great month for celebrating. This March we will see March Break, St. Patrick’s Day, Day Light Saving time begins, the First Day of Spring, and Maple Syrup harvesting! All of these events are worthy of a feast and recipe to share but I can’t help myself when it comes to this time of year because I get a little giddy about maple syrup.

Maple Syrup can be enjoyed in many forms like candy, taffy, sugar and jelly. Maple Jelly is an easy to make spread using maple syrup, water and a thickening agent. The thickening agent used is either Gelatin based made from animal bone marrow or it can be can vegetable based from carrageenan which is harvested from Irish moss or seaweed. Genugel is a commercial brand of carrageenan that is easy to use and is available to purchase on-line or at Maple syrup supply stores. It should be noted that fruit produced Pectin does not work as a coagulant in Maple syrup.

Maple Jelly is an easy to use condiment that can be used on toast, vegetables, roast pork loin, beef and salmon dishes alike.
It is time to get your Maple on and get and celebrate spring with many area Maple Syrup producers hosting tours and festivals in the coming weeks creating educational experiences for all to enjoy as well as giving us a taste of the first harvest. Pick up some extra syrup this year and try making your own Maple Jelly using the following recipe.

This basic recipe can easily be flavoured with clove, currant, cinnamon, bourbon, all spice, apple, or cranberries. It will lose its amber translucency which is prized among Maple Jelly producers but it will bring a whole other dimension of taste to your jelly and accompanied foods.

 

Looking for hard to find ingredients and gourmet foodstuffs?

Check out http://cookculture.poolpatioandbbq.com

Tapped Sugar Maple producing sap for maple syrup

Tapped Sugar Maple producing sap for maple syrup

 

Maple Jelly

1 liter Grade A Medium Amber pure maple syrup
1.5 cups cold water
1 tsp. Genugel

Prepare 3-5 Mason jars in a hot water bath so that they are ready to use. In a medium sized bowl whisk the Genugel into the cold water. Combine the Genugel water mixture with the maple syrup in a large, heavy bottomed stainless steel pot. The pot will need to be at least large enough to accommodate 4 liters or a gallon of liquid as the Jelly mixture will foam up and expand during the cooking process thus avoiding the pot boiling over.

Over medium low heat bring the soon to be jelly to a boil and allow it to continue to boil until it reaches a temperature of 103 °C / 217 °F. To ensure a nice clean jelly it is important to skim off all of the foam that appears on the surface while it is boiling.

Immediately reduce the heat to as low as possible and begin to fill your preserving jars. It is important that you use a portioning tool like a ladle or measuring cup that can fill your jars in one smooth motion as this jelly will set very quickly. If you have to fill your jars in 2 or 3 steps you will find that air bubbles will get trapped in your jelly and they will look quite visibly layered which in the jelly making world is undesirable. If this happens don’t worry as it will still taste delicious the jelly will simply appear rather cloudy. Place the lids onto the jars and process them in hot water bath at a temperature of 82°C /180 °F for 10 minutes. Cool and store in the refrigerator after opening.

Proud Winner of the Top Chef Readers Select Award 2014

Proud Winner of the Top Chef Readers Select Award 2014

 

Looking for hard to find ingredients and gourmet foodstuffs?

Check out http://cookculture.poolpatioandbbq.com

Gastronomically yours,

March 8th, 2014

Let’s get Tapping

The great thing about this year’s winter is that it has lasted longer than in previous years allowing us additional time to prepare for our first plant based agricultural harvest; maple syrup. This year’s harvest of maple syrup is delayed by about a month and it is expected to be a great one due to the harshness and length of the winter.

For a one time investment of $200.00 you can purchase enough maple sugaring gear to tap 12-14 trees for years to come. Additionally you will need to purchase propane to fire the sap into syrup. I purchased $60 of propane from which I produce over 16 liters of my own maple syrup. Considering that a liter of syrup costs around $20 this is a very economical approach to enjoying maple syrup. The amount of work involved in making these 16-liters of syrup was rather shocking and makes purchasing locally produced syrup seem like a bargain at $20 a liter.

New and used maple sugaring supplies can be purchased locally at the Peterborough Co-Op located just outside of Peterborough on highway 7. This farmer owned farm Co-operative has been serving Peterborough County for over 70 years and can assist you in starting up your own urban maple syrup farm.

 

Homemade Maple Syrup

If you have a few sugar maple trees, you can make your own maple syrup. I strongly recommend not boiling sap inside your house.

You will need the following

Cordless drill with a 7/16” bit

Spigots and metal or plastic pails with lids.

Felt syrup filter. (optional)

Large plastic pails for storing freshly gathered sap

Outdoor cooker with pot available at hardware stores

Full propane tank and a backup tank

Candy thermometer.

Clean glass jars that will seal for storing your syrup

 

How to make your own syrup:

First be sure your trees are sugar maples. Drill a 7/16″ hole 3″ deep at waist height into unblemished bark. Drive the spigot in so that it is tight and cannot be pulled out by hand, but don’t overdo it and split the tree. Hang your bucket on the hook of the spout. Be sure to cover the bucket with a lid.

Once the sap has started to run and you have enough in your buckets to fill your boiling pot two-thirds full, you are ready to fire up the burner. Do not overfill your pot, as it will boil over. As the water evaporates, add more sap to the pot. Do not have less than an inch of liquid in the pot as it may burn. You can add cold sap right into the boiling sap. It will take a lot of boiling to get it to become syrup. Remember that 40 liters of sap make one liter of maple syrup.

Do not leave an accumulation of sap in the collecting buckets especially in warm weather, as the sap will sour. Keep the sap as cold as possible and boil it as soon as you can. Finished maple syrup will be 7.5 °f. above the temperature of boiling water at your elevation, check this with your candy thermometer. I like to use a hydrometer to tell me when my syrup is done. Proper syrup will weigh at least 11 pounds per gallon. Do not go beyond 11 1/4 pounds per gallon or it may form crystals in the bottom of the storage container.

Pour finished hot syrup through a felt syrup filter or strainer. Sediment will settle to the bottom of the jars and clearer syrup may be carefully poured off the top. Personally I prefer to leave the sediment in my syrup, as it is a concentration of calcium and other minerals and is quite healthy to consume.

 

Pour the hot syrup into the clean, sterile canning jars and seal. Fill them full so that very little air will be in the jar. If laid on their side while cooling a better seal will result. Store your finished syrup in a cool place. The freezer is ideal and properly prepared syrup will not freeze and a poor seal will not be as important when stored in a freezer.

If proper taping procedures are followed, tapping will not endanger the health and vitality of your trees as a healthy sugar maple can provide sap every year for a hundred years or more.

 

Looking for hard to find ingredients and gourmet foodstuffs?

Check out http://cookculture.poolpatioandbbq.com

Maple Wine

As the season has just begun our first 3 liters of syrup would be classified as Canada No. 1 Light which is a pale, honey like delicate syrup produced only at the beginning of the season.  Maple syrup is divided into five grades, based largely on color. Canada No. 3 Dark lies at the other end of the spectrum, as a richly colored full-flavored syrup which is harvested towards the end of the season. Canada No. 1 Medium is the most popular grade; it’s produced midseason.

Most people will take maple syrup and drizzle it over food just like ketchup. My point being that neither is considered to be an act culinary genius. We simply use it as a condiment and pour it over anything from baked goods and pancakes to salmon and pork dishes.

one should try any of the following ideas If you are harvesting your own sap or have access to fresh sap I recommend any of the following ideas and concepts to appreciate maple sap and syrup to the fullest..

Farmers Rock!

Farmers Rock!

Anywhere that you use water in your kitchen you can replace it with maple sap so try making your coffee and tea with sap instead of water.  I will freeze a few liters of sap to make iced teas with in the summer. A maple-mint julep can take the edge off of any lazy summer day.

Some of my favorite ways of cooking with sap is to reduce by half it until it just starts to thicken and turn a slight amber color. At this point the sap will have a slightly pronounced maple flavor, now you can get adventurous, try cooking your oatmeal or other hot cereal grains in this reduced sap. It is perfect for cooking wild rice and quinoa as well.

I recently cooked baked beans with sap in a crock pot for several hours. I only added some salt, chopped onion and bacon. I didn’t have to add any brown sugar or molasses to the recipe as I found them to be delicious with just the maple sweetness.

Looking for hard to find ingredients and gourmet foodstuffs?

Check out http://cookculture.poolpatioandbbq.com

 This sap reduction can be used as a poaching medium as well. Try poaching salmon or chicken in it.  For a taste of a true Canadian breakfast poach your eggs in the reduced sap and serve it up with smoked bacon.

Enjoy the first harvest of the Kawarthas’ and support our local maple syrup producers. For the more adventurous ones out there I recommend trying this week’s recipe for wine.

 

 

Tired of mixed messages

Tired of mixed messages

Maple Sap Wine

Four liters maple sap

Up to 1kg granulated sugar

Two lemons

Ten cloves

One eighth tsp tannin

One tsp yeast nutrient

One package of Riesling wine yeast

First measure the specific gravity of the sap with a hydrometer to determine how much sugar to add to achieve a starting specific gravity of 1.085-1.090. Different saps will contain different amounts of natural sugar, and even the sap from the same tree will differ from year to year. In a stainless steel pot stir the required amount of sugar into the maple sap and bring to a low boil for 15 minutes, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. In a separate pan, combine a cup of the sap with the cloves and zest of the lemons and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the clove mixture back into the sap and sugar pot and add the juice from the lemons and the yeast nutrient. When cooled to 22° c., add the activated wine yeast. Cover the pot and store it at room temperature. Be sure to stir the mixture daily for 8-10 days. Transfer to a secondary carboy fitted with an airlock. Ferment for 6-8 weeks. Rack into a sanitized secondary, refit the airlock and bulk age for 12 months.

 

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March 7th, 2014

 

Liquid Gold Rush

When the nights are below freezing and the days are mild you can be sure of some things, like the coming of spring, the deadline for filing your tax returns and a new season of local harvesting. This seasonal change in the weather makes the sap flow and represents the region’s premier crop harvest of Maple Syrup.

It usually takes about forty years before a Sugar Maple will reach the recommended tappable size of being 10 inches in diameter. The tap hole is usually placed about waist high on the tree, and 3 to 4” from any previous taps. It is bored 3″ into the sapwood. Larger trees may take numerous taps. For every additional 8″ in diameter another tap hole may be added. A tree 26″ in diameter could have up to three taps. I’ve been told that trees with lots of branches are better producers than those trees with smaller tops. During the 4-6 week syrup season, a single tap hole can yield up to ten gallons of sap or about one quart of maple syrup.

After tapping the tree a metal spout called a spile is tapped snugly into the hole, and a bucket is hung from a hook on the spout. A cover is put on the bucket to keep out rain, snow, and debris. If a plastic tubing system is used to collect the sap, a plastic spout is tapped into the hole and is then connected to a network of tubes that creates a pipeline system.

When all of the trees have been tapped, the syrup producer is ready for the “first run,” this is when the sap first starts to flow. Sap flow requires freezing nights and warm days. These must alternate and be in a long enough series to allow the sap to move through the trees. Prolonged periods of either below freezing temperatures or days without freezing nights will stop the sap flow.

Maple sap comes from the tree as a clear, slightly sweet liquid that is approximately 98% water and 2% sugar. When the syrup is finished these ratios change to 33% water and 67% sugar.

When the bucket collection method is used, a sap-gathering tank is mounted on a sled or a wagon that is moved through the sugar bush as the sap is gathered. Tractors are most regularly used, but sometimes teams of horses pull the sleds or wagons. Workers using large gathering pails collect the sap from each tree. These pails are dumped into the gathering tank, which is then taken to a large sap storage tank at the sugarhouse, where it will be boiled down into maple syrup. If the tubing system is being used, the sap drips from the tap hole into a section of tubing. This tubing eventually connects into a larger pipeline called a “mainline.” The mainline carries the sap downhill to a sap storage tank either at the sugarhouse, or at a low spot where it can be collected easily and transported to the sugarhouse.

Maple syrup is traditionally made in a building called a sugarhouse or sugar shack. This name comes from the time when most sap was actually turned into sugar. It wasn’t until the late 1800’s when the drastic price reduction of cane sugar caused maple sugar sales to drop resulting in the production of the more profitable maple syrup.

Each sugarhouse contains an evaporator that is used to boil down the sap into syrup. Evaporators are made up of one or more flat pans, which sit on a type of firebox. Wood or oil, and sometimes gas is burned at the front end, and the flames are drawn along the underside of the pan, heating and boiling the sap as it travels towards the back of the pan. It takes about one cord of wood or sixty gallons of oil to boil down 800 gallons of sap into syrup. Sugarhouses have a vent on their roofs, a cupola, which is opened to allow the steam of the boiling syrup to escape the building. Steam rising from the cupola is a signal that maple syrup season is under way.

An evaporator pan is divided into partitions, so that the sap is continuously flowing through the pan. Fresh sap enters at the back of the pan, where a float valve keeps the sap about an inch deep. As the sap boils the liquid becomes sweeter, and begins to move towards the front of the pan, traveling through the partitions and more fresh sap is allowed into the rear of the pan.

The syrup maker concentrates their attention to the front of the evaporator where the boiling sap is turning a golden colour as it approaches being maple syrup. The temperature of this boiling liquid must be checked regularly for when it reaches 7.5 °f above the boiling point of water, it has reached the proper density and has become maple syrup.

At this stage a valve on the front of the pan is opened and some of the finished boiling syrup is drawn off the pan and is filtered. After filtering, the syrup is bottled and is ready for a fresh pile of warm pancakes.

Last year I spent $200 on equipment and $60 on propane and was able to produce over 4-gallons of my own maple syrup. Considering that a gallon of syrup costs around $60 this is a very economical approach to enjoying maple syrup. The amount of work involved in making these 4-gallons was rather shocking and makes purchasing locally produced syrup seem like a bargain at $60 a gallon.

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Tapped Sugar Maple producing sap for maple syrup

Tapped Sugar Maple producing sap for maple syrup

Homemade Maple Syrup

If you have a few sugar maple trees, you can make your own maple syrup. I strongly recommend not boiling sap inside your house.

You will need the following

Cordless drill with a 7/16” bit

Spigots and metal or plastic pails with lids. Felt syrup filter. Available at TSC stores

Large plastic pails for storing freshly gathered sap

Outdoor cooker with pot available at hardware stores

Full propane tank and a back up tank

Candy thermometer.

Clean glass jars that will seal for storing your syrup

 

How to make your own syrup

Be sure your trees are sugar maples

Drill a 7/16″ hole 3″ deep at waist height into unblemished bark. Drive the spigot in so that it is tight and cannot be pulled out by hand, but don’t over do it and split the tree. Hang your bucket on the hook of the spout. Be sure to cover the bucket with a lid.

Once the sap has started to run and you have enough in your buckets to fill your boiling pot two-thirds full, you are ready to fire up the burner. Do not overfill your pot, as it will boil over. As the water evaporates, add more sap to the pot. Do not have less than an inch of liquid in the pot as it may burn. You can add cold sap right into the boiling sap. It will take a lot of boiling to get it to become syrup. Remember that 40 gallons of sap make one gallon of maple syrup. Do not leave an accumulation of sap in the collecting buckets especially in warm weather, as the sap will sour. Keep the sap as cold as possible and boil it as soon as you can. Finished maple syrup will be 7.5 °f. above the temperature of boiling water at your elevation, check this with your candy thermometer. I like to use a hydrometer to tell me when my syrup is done. Proper syrup will weigh at least 11 pounds per gallon. Do not go beyond 11 1/4 pounds per gallon or it may form crystals in the bottom of the storage container.

Pour finished hot syrup through a felt syrup filter or strainer. Sediment will settle to the bottom of the jars and clearer syrup may be carefully poured off the top. I leave the sediment in my syrup, as it is a concentration of calcium and other minerals.

Pour the hot syrup into the clean, sterile canning jars and seal. Fill them full so that very little air will be in the jar. If laid on their side while cooling a better seal will result. Store syrup in a cool place. The freezer is ideal and properly prepared syrup will not freeze and a poor seal will not be as important when stored in a freezer.

If proper taping procedures are followed, tapping will not endanger the health and vitality of your trees as a healthy sugar maple can provide sap every year for a hundred years or more.

 

 

 

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