Sunday, March 15, 2009

Boiling Off

If your sap buckets have been running over, this was the perfect weekend for a boil off. The days were warm and sunny. The wood smoke smelled fabulous. And the kids were happy just to roll around in the leaves (and get tangled in the tubing dripping sap into the collecting barrels).

Our friend Craig has been doing this for about a decade, and his system is simple perfection. His evaporation pans are old catering trays. He welded the fire box himself, and the grills inside are from Roger Hoffman's in Red Hook (more on Roger's one day soon). This winter's ice storm provided plenty of downed wood, and Craig's wife Jane cleverly warmed crepes by the fire. Pretty nice way to spend an afternoon.

The boiling requires constant tending. The fresh sap is filtered through a little cheesecloth and runs in a thin stream into the boiling pan. Craig's clever old pot adaptation keeps the cold sap from killing the rolling boil in the evaporator. Still, with four pans, a hot spot on the fire and some skimming of foam once in awhile, it takes a watchful eye to get an even boil and keep the syrup level high in the pans.

The end result is this sweet, slightly smokey elixir of spring. Hope you had some too!


  1. I'm actually thinking of planting three this year. It'll be a wait, but I'm patient.