Winter felt like a bit of a bust this year. Chris had an injured back and Theo was still just a tad too little to take advantage of stomping around in the snow, so we spent a lot of time indoors.
March perked us up, though. It was time to finally milk this ‘country living’ thing for all it was worth. It was SYRUP TIME.
Laura Ingalls Wilder — eat your heart out.
We intrepid pioneers bought some neon buckets, a bag of plastic spiles, and trudged our totally disinterested toddler to the end of our driveway to tap our two big sugar maple trees.
She ain’t pretty but she got the job done. A day later our buckets were full of sap. You should probably know that it takes approximately 40 litres of sap boiled down to make just 1 litre of maple syrup. It sounds like a lot — and it is. But we foolishly underestimated the trees, and over the next two weeks we hauled in bucket after bucket until we had made just over 9 litres of syrup in total. So that’s about 360 litres of sap. Holy f@%*!
We did a combo of stovetop and barbecue reduction, first in a large roasting pan. You just let it boil and boil and reduce, and occasionally skim off the foam that collects. And the bugs. Then the remainder gets poured through a special maple syrup filter (ours was made out of a fabric that was like heavy-duty felt) and then boiled down to reduce again.
Here’s a sampling of our haul above. The final result tastes different from store-bought maple syrup; its flavour seems more complex, like a caramel-y vanilla. It’s pretty divine.
The whole experience was extremely gratifying. One of those little things that serves to remind me that yes, we are in the right place, at just the right time, for us. Amazing things can happen in our own backyard. Now, bring on the pancakes!