On Sunday I took a walk through the woods to bring Adam some extra jars for our sugaring efforts. He spent the better part of the day with my uncle in the sugar house; my uncle boiled his weekly harvest of 600 gallons to our humble 15. In total, I think we've collected around forty gallons of sap so far - with one more week (or so) of harvest to go.
This March has been cold cold cold. We've had the strangest breaks in the cold where we were able to tap trees, collect a days worth of sap, then everything froze solid for a full week. This is followed by a 1-2 day thaw of flowing sap, then boom - all is frozen solid again. It actually makes for a nice pace if you're sugaring newbies like us. Maple sugaring is petty straight forward in theory, but like most traditional preparations, the secret to a perfect product lies in the wisdom passed down from those who've practiced it time and time again. My uncle taught me a few years ago that "sap is highly perishable, and the syrup itself is highly shelf stable."
If you are having a typical March (for my area) of freezing nights followed by above freezing days, you really do need to boil often in order to prevent sap from spoiling. In other words, you can't hold on to sap for weeks and weeks and do one big boil at the end of March. This year however, it's been so cold that our sap is freezing solid within 24 hours after collection.
So we've been able to collect over quite a bit of time before boiling. Another thing I learned from my uncle is that you can boil a great deal of sap down pretty low, cool it off and store in a cool spot without risk spoilage. This way we can do our big "final boil" all at once. (Although now that I think about it I wonder if this option is due to this year's cold temperatures... need to double check with him on that.)
The sap we've collected so far, boiled to its "almost there" phase. I'll finish it up today. This is three gallons and will probably wind up as one gallon or so. Thankfully the season is not over yet.
In a typical year, we'd probably be collecting more sap, more quickly, and have a few big boil days. But with the hurry up and wait sugaring that nature has given us this year, we seem to have a bit of breathing room between sap collection and boiling days.
Anyway, when I entered the sugar house and was met with the incredible sauna-like air, I couldn't help but think how well timed sugaring season is. Just off a long stretch of dry, indoor air - sugaring season gives us humidity! Moisture on our skin and in our lungs - what a perfect way to welcome springtime.
I just checked the forecast and starting today we should see six straight days of above freezing daytime temps. The sap is about to start flowing seriously now!
One of my favorite (maple sweetened) warm drinks over the last few months has been this amazing coffee-free mocha latte. I've made a similar drink before (I think the recipe for it is in one of my courses), but now with the addition of coconut oil and teaspoon of pastured butter, it has reached an all new level of luscious delight. I thought I'd share this quick recipe with you today.
Mocha Latte (with herbal coffee)
When blended, the coconut oil and butter emulsify to be become incredibly creamy and frothy.
- 1 cup raw milk (or milk of your choice), heated until steamy but not boiling
- 1/2 cup very hot water
- 3 rounded tsp Dandy Blend
- 1 rounded tsp cacoa powder
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp pastured unsalted butter (though I use salted butter at times)
- 2-3 teaspoons maple syrup
Place all ingredients in a blender, blend on high for 30 seconds (always be careful when blending hot liquids). Serve hot.
Print Recipe - Mocha Latte (with herbal coffee)
Do you ever ditch responsibilities (say, grocery shopping) and sneak away to sit and stare at the lake instead? Me too!!