a warm cup of tree

My morning began long before the rooster crowed. My dear hubby and diligent fire builder started his day even earlier. The morning was cold and the pre-dawn sky was spitting a fine snow in our faces. Working by the light of our headlamps, we stoked a raging fire and put the sap on. This was a fine day for maple syrup making. IMG_5895We were up early because it was our first “boil off” of the season and we were both eager to try out our new “rig”. After years and years (and years) of making do in regards to equipment (long ago I even went so far as to cook down sap on the wood cookstove indoors, and sitting on that experience I will firmly discourage anyone from trying that!) my relatively frugal self made the plunge and finally invested in a proper “evaporator” pan. My hope is to make enough for my family’s usage and then maybe, just maybe, be able to offer a little of this sweetness to our incredibly supportive CSA shareholders. It may not happen this year, but by golly I’m gonna try! And I have some wonderful little helpers who are very eager maple syrup connoisseurs. IMG_5899IMG_5907As the sap warms over the fire and the mapley-sweetness begins to increase, the children arrive with tea cups in hand and beg for a little “cup of tree”. (My family’s term of endearment for the amazing life blood of the sugar maple.) An incredible treat, really. Even the clear fresh sap straight from the tree has a wonderfully subtle maple flavor, but when it’s warmed over the fire just a bit and it’s cold and snowing outside and you’re standing around a raging fire and the air is filled with the mingling smells of wood smoke and maple… well, that’s just bliss. IMG_5904In the afternoon, our dear friends and farm neighbors, Jesse and Hannah, strolled down the hill to see how we were getting along. They joined us for that infamous cup of tree and we had a nice visit around the fire. They, too, have tapped a few trees on their own homestead and are doing all sorts of fun things with the sap. (Check out their post about this day here.)

To be sure, making your own maple syrup is an arduous task. There’s the cutting and collecting of all that wood. There’s the hauling and handling of all that sap. There’s the fire that needs stoking every 10 minutes or so for 12 to 15 hours straight. But a human being’s desire for sweetness is a strong one. And I’m more than happy to put in the work to secure my own sweetness from my own source if it better allows me to keep the industry standard sweetener (high fructose corn syrup) out of my house.

We’ll be boiling off again in a few days… why don’t you come on over and join us for a warm cup of tree? IMG_5930

9 thoughts on “a warm cup of tree

  1. Oh, I would love to! We have gone through almost 5 gallons in the past year and I’m on my last one in the fridge – good timing! Love how dressed up your little girl is for the big occasion – what a fancy pink coat!

  2. a ‘cup of tree’ sounds delicious 🙂 I am sure that the process is hard, but it is part of enjoying the blessings the land has to offer, for those like your family, that are willing to work a bit to get it. Thank you so much for sharing…. m.

  3. Oh I wish I was there to help out and sample that “cup of tea”. The whole process sounds intriguing to me. I read an article the other day about making maple taffy and it looks like fun.

  4. I am thinking of using a woodcookstove in my barn to boil down sap on…was the only problem that it was inside or was it not very efficient? Thanks!

    • No, it’s just that it creates so much steam (so much!). The year that we did it on our wood cookstove indoors, the steam condensed on the inside of our tin roof (above the insulation), ran down into the walls and was actually running out of knotholes in our wood paneling. Unless you live in a place that has wallpaper that you just can’t stand, I strongly advise not boiling off indoors. The barn setup should be just fine. Best of luck to you!

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