Spring is making small, intermittent inroads into the dreary snow and slush covered drabness that is Southern Ontario in March. But I know it is on its way because Hubs has spent the last few weeks or so tinkering around in the garage with his welding gear and an angle grinder. That means it sugaring season. Last year was our first attempt at sugaring off (and by 'our' I mean 'his') and it went pretty well, though we had to do almost all of the boiling on top of the stove in our house. Which you know, is not optimal. You have to boil down a LOT of sap to get a couple of jars of the good stuff and that makes for a very busy, humid kitchen. Plus also, it freaks me out to have something boiling on the stove at all times when there are toddlers around. We take all the precautions with using the back boiler and short handled pans and all that, but still, it's safer to keep it outside.
Its mostly a 50 gallon barrel he found kicking around the yard here somewhere, and two of the buffet size water pans that go underneath warming dishes that he bought from a restaurant supply shop, and then a piece of duct that he used for the chimney.
By the end of the day, he'd gotten it quite boiled down, and decided to bring the much smaller amount in to finish off on top of the stove. Note the pan on the counter at the right with the napkin clothes-pinned to the top edge for straining the finished syrup through. Very resourceful this guy.
And here is the first bit of the finished product. Isn't that pretty? So satisfying to see it go from the watery nothingness that sap seems to be to this rich amber liquid. And I can tell that Hubs is very happy with the result in his quietly pleased kind of way. This will be the first of many batches to come I hope because we go through this stuff like crazy. Its my favourite kind of sugar of all, maple syrup is. Nothing beats the taste of the real thing and the added cherry on top (for me) is geting it for free. Of course, Hubs is paying for it in sweat (walking and tapping and hauling and chopping etc) but I love not paying grocery store prices for it. For a thrifty Dutch girl like me, it makes it taste even sweeter if that's possible.