First, a disclaimer: We are from away. Meaning, we were not born in Maine, but we did move here on purpose, for the slower pace of life, the beautiful outdoors and a positive environment in which to raise our kids. Since as we made it here, we try to embrace our inner Yankee from time to time, ie-we try to do a lot of "it" ourselves. We mow and shovel and stack our own wood piles. We garden some of our own veggies, most success comes in the easy growing leafy green variety. We have even managed to keep four laying hens alive providing us with plenty of eggs for eating and baking and sharing in the summer months. But I have to say the sweetest endeavor we have taken on is tapping our maple trees.
This was all L's idea to start. Off to the hardware store he went three years ago and proudly came home with a couple of funny little gadgets that you pound into the side of a maple, hang a bucket on the hook and wait for the drip drip drip to fill it up.
The official start to the season is sometime in March when the days start to warm up and the nights stay below freezing. This year we were maybe a bit too early to start (see above)? But no matter, things warmed up later in the day and soon we had a giant lobster pot filled with sap. My son drinks it straight from the tree just to weird me out a bit. We set the pot up outside on a propane cooker ( a 'real' Mainer probably has a beautiful wood fired set up in a little sugar shack) and forget about it for a while.
When it gets dark out and there is not much left to boil outside, we bring the batch into the kitchen to finish it off.
We watch the thermometer pretty carefully- because we've made candy a couple of times!
Here's the first batch of 2013 basking in the afternoon light in the kitchen. It is a little cloudy. I've read that we can pour off /reheat /strain/ and re-jar....or we can just have waffles in the morning!