The Great Bigleaf Maple Syruping Experiment continues.

February 3, 2013 · 11 comments

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By myself, I could probably make it to the pond and back in maybe 20 minutes if I really hurried, but since Henry left for California, the kids and I have being collecting sap together each morning. With my sap-collecting buddies, the same trip takes at least hour. There are always banana slugs to examine, rock piles to excavate, sticks to throw for the dog, and treasure to collect. (Charlotte bends over, picks up a little piece of bone, and squeals, “Levi, I found a whale tooth!”) It’s okay, though. We have no reason to hurry.

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Before I go on, I have to say a bit huge “thank you” to everyone who left such insightful, informative, and heartwarming comments on my last maple post. I could probably google around for syruping tips, but it’s a whole lot more fun to read about your own experiences and fond childhood memories. Sometimes I sort of forget that people are actually out there in the world reading (REALLY reading, not just looking at the photos like my mom) this blog. Your comments are definitely affirming and motivating for me (even if I don’t always respond to each one individually).

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Since the first days of sap-filled bounty, the flow has tapered off significantly. This morning we collected about a gallon from three trees after 24 hours since the last harvest. I’m trying to decide if this means…

a) We started right at peak flow or perhaps even after peak flow, and now sap production will taper down to nothing.

b) Sap flow has tapered because it’s been warmish, but it will pick up again when it gets cold.

c) The first rush was a fluke, and Oregon just isn’t very good for maple syrup after all.

Whatever the answer is, I am not disappointed or discouraged. I’m just curious and thankful because after all, this is only an experiment and no matter what the result, I’ve already learned a ton and had an interesting experience.

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I’ve been collecting sap every day in this 5-gallon BPA-free jug. It works great. Because I’m so used to being extra conscientious about hygiene and cleanliness when dairying and cheesemaking, I’ve been washing out my jug between sap gathering expeditions. So far, though, I haven’t brought the buckets or spiles in to wash them since we started this experiment six days ago. I’m hoping that because I’m boiling everything eventually, I’m okay sanitation-wise.

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The most exciting thing to report is that we have syrup! Not a whole lot, but I think after I filter this most recent pot, we’ll be up to almost a quart. And let me tell you, this stuff is GOOD. Like REALLY good. There’s part of me that would love to do an official maple syrup tasting with East Coast vintages as well, but for now, I’m satisfied to drizzle a couple spoonfuls over plain yogurt and a sprinkling of shredded coconut for breakfast. It doesn’t get much better than that. I gave Henry’s dad (who fancies himself something of a maple syrup connoisseur) a taste this morning, and he rated it right up there with the best. We may not get much more out of this first run, but it’s totally been worth it. We will definitely be doing this next winter (though we’ll probably tap in mid-January and see what we get).

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