By Richard DeVries
We had a good sap run over the weekend. We emptied the bags on Saturday after the open house and Monday morning all the bags and tanks were full. Monday morning the sap-lines were frozen and we had a good sap-run again.
The warm temperatures had me cooking inside and out. I decided to cook down all the sap before it would spoil. Monday I cooked down 350 gallons of sap and made 10 gallons of syrup. On Tuesday I cooked down 425 gallons of sap and made another 15 gallons of pure Maple Syrup.
I wanted to pump out all the tanks and clean them to minimize the bacteria in the sap. People frown upon the word bacteria and I try not to use it too much but the warm weather leaves me no choice. To keep it to a minimum we have to work clean and fast.
Early in the season the sap from the trees is crystal clear, not unlike water. When it gets warmer during the days the sap turns cloudy and we have to cook it down right away and we have to clean the tanks more regularly. The sap will spoil if it sits around too long but a little bit of bacteria in the sap is not bad.
The sap will be cooked for hours and the bacteria will make it a darker grade with a stronger flavor that most people prefer. Usually the syrup will be a lighter grade early in the season and turn darker as the season goes on. This year we actually started out with a medium to dark amber color, darker than I have seen before for the first syrup of the season.
I hope the temperatures will drop below freezing again before the trees leaf out. If the forecast is right we might get some more sap to cook for the weekend. If the buds on the trees get bigger than a chipmunks ear, according to a visitor I talked to last year, we will be done for the season.
We have cooked 46 gallons of Maple syrup so far. We also cooked one gallon of Walnut syrup on our outdoor cooker but we handed most of that out as samples to the public.
Stop by the Arboretum this Saturday, April 4, from noon to 4, for the last demonstration and sampling day of the season.