Category Archives: POD 8-Sugaring

History of Maple Sap Evaporators

The First Maple Syrup Production

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Sap being boiled in a log
  • Logs were filled with sap and then hot stones were added to boil the sap.
  • Hot stones would continue to be added until there was a large enough quantity of syrup produced.
  • Myths suggest that eastern woodland Indians such as the Iroquois began boiling sap that the Creator had provided for them.
  • In 1775 a young colonist was captured and witnessed the Indians boiling what is now know as maple syrup.

History of The Evaporator

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Settlers pouring sap collected in buckets into a kettle
  • —Written accounts of sugaring date back to 1557, the exact origins are unknown.
  • —Multiple kettles were adopted to decrease the boiling time as well as the quality of syrup.
  • —What is known is that maple syrup production began officially in the 1700’s.
  • —In 1858 D.M Cook patented the first evaporator pan
  • —In 1864 David Ingalls patented a evaporator pan with baffles in the bottom to help channel the boiling sap.
  • —In 1872 H. Allen Soule or Vermont designs the first evaporator with two pans and a metal arch or firebox further decreasing boiling time.
  • —Europeans introduced metal kettles which became common place and decreased boil time.
  • —Written accounts of sugaring date back to 1557, the exact origins are unknown.

First Maple Production Innovations

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  • Flat bottom pans was one of the first major innovations to boiling sap.
  • Increased surface area allowed for unprecedented evaporation speeds.
  • The flat bottoms pans were also enclosed and helped keep out wood ash.
  • Both increased fuel and boiling efficiency.

Modern Evaporators Today

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A modern evaporator boiling sap
  • Incorporation of deep channels or “flues” to again help decrease boiling time.
  • Enclosed heat source underneath the pans doubled the efficiency of fuel and heating times.
  • Reduced fuel and time also decreased production cost and thus decreased syrup prices.
  • Wood is still being used however, alternative fuel sources are used such as: Fuel oil, kerosene, propane, and natural gas.

(Sources) : NORTH AMERICAN MAPLE SYRUP PRODUCERS MANUAL, Maple History Timeline

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The Great Canadian Syrup Heist

It happened in Quebec in 2011.  No one knew about it until 2012.  What was it? A bunch of people stole millions and millions of dollars worth of syrup from a warehouse over a matter of months.

How it happen?   Here are the details:syrup!

  • The federation of quebec maple syrup producers was being stolen from.
  • They are the legal “mob bosses” of the syrup industry.  They control who can buy syrup, who can sell syrup, and who can make syrup in Quebec.
  • There was a rival syrup distributor who had an inside man on the job who gained access to the warehouse legally because he rented a section it.
  • Hundreds of barrels of syrup were replaced with nothing or water.
  • It happened over several months, not just in one night.
  • They could sell it on the black market.  Some of it made it overseas, and to Vermont and New Hampshire.syrup@
  • An accountant went to do the annual books and climbed up on a barrel and it was
    empty.
  • 18.6 million dollars’ worth of syrup was stolen .
  • After a long investigation, 22 people in total were arrested. 

Sweet Maple in the Kitchen

We love maple syrup, and we have plenty of it, so we have been cooking up a storm in POD 8.  As we learned about the sugaring process and helped out in the sugarbush, we were also trying out different recipes, mainly relying on one cookbook:  Maple Syrup Cookbook by Ken Haedrich (Storey Press, 2001).

Some recipes have been more successful than others.  Here is the list:

IMG_9369Day 1 – Indian Pudding.  A traditional New England dessert, this might have been a real treat for us 200 years ago.  This version is quite luscious, and it smelled particularly good while cooking.  Not everyone was a fan of the texture or of the molasses flavor, but it’s something I will make again.

Day 2 – Maple Hot Chocolate.  We were busy in the snowy woods this day, so we made a rich hot chocolate that required 2 ounces of chocolate per cup of milk.  It was too chocolatey for some, but easily thinned with more milk.  The maple part of it was not impressive – a simple teaspoon of syrup in each cup.  You couldn’t taste the maple unless you added many more spoonfuls.

Day 3 – Maple Granola.  This was a standard granola recipe that uses maple syrup instead of honey.  Very tasty.  Again, some students thought it could stand to be sweeter, and some were not crazy about the nuts and sunflower seeds.  It’s very easy to adjust sweetener and additions to taste in this kind of recipe.

IMG_9496Day 4 – North Country Basting Saucy and Hot&Spicy Kabobs.  This was a winner.  The basting BBQ sauce was tangy, and with the addition of onions, lemon juice and spice made wonderful kebabs.  One student brought in venison, and another brought in shrimp.  Five stars from everyone.

gorp barsAlso on Day 4 – Gorp Bars.  These were a disappointment.  The description indicated a bar that was “moist and chewy” and great for taking on a hike. (Think “good old raisins and peanuts” plus oats.)   Instead, it was a bit dry and crumbled easily.  I won’t be making this again, but will look for a similar granola bar recipe.

img_9508Day 5 – Maple Fudge.  Made with maple syrup, sugar, and cream, it’s trickier than you think!  Working on a sample batch the day before,  I was beating it, and just as it was almost ready, the phone rang.  By the time I asked the caller to call back in 10 minutes, the fudge had set.  It was too hard to press into the pan, but the chunks and crumbs were delicious.  When we tried it again the next day, it seems that we didn’t beat it enough, or else we didn’t get the temperature just right.  It never set properly, so we ended up with a tasty maple caramel.  My portion is waiting in my freezer, as I’m still trying to figure out how to use it.  Perhaps next time it will by “just right.”

IMG_3111Day 6 – Lasagne.  This project was leftover from the previous POD.  We had already made the sauce, so it just needed an assembling of the pasta and cheeses.  However, we added some maple syrup to the sauce so it “counted” as a maple recipe. (Many recipes add sugar to tomato sauce, so why not add maple syrup?)

Day 7 – Maple Vanilla Tapioca.  We didn’t have much time for cooking this day, but tapioca is quick and easy.  Mix 3 Tbsp of instant tapioca crystals with milk, egg and syrup (instead of sugar.)  Let stand 5 minutes.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat, add 1 tsp vanilla, and let stand 20 minutes.  Done!  It was well received by those who like puddings, the only critique being too much vanilla.

Day 8 – Maple-Orange Wings.  This was another disappointment – so bland and flavorless.  Looking again at the recipe afterwards, we noticed that it described the flavor as “delicate and subtle”. The wings were soaked in a marinade of orange, buttermilk, cinnamon and maple syrup.   Maybe they would have been better cooked on a grill instead of baked.  (With our old gas oven, we didn’t have the option of broiling.)  We won’t be making them again.

Also on Day 8 – Maple Baked Beans.  This was a winner that saved the day.  Earlier we had shelled the Vermont cranberry beans that had been drying in the barn all winter.  I soaked and cooked the beans, and baked them at home, bringing them in to share.  They had just the right mix of sweet and tangy, and the beans themselves had a firm, smooth texture.  Everyone loved them and filled up on beans instead of wings.

 

IMG_9576Day 9 – Maple Bacon and Buttermilk Pancakes.  We ended the POD with traditional pancakes and syrup and with bacon glazed with syrup.  Yum.  We reviewed at least four different buttermilk pancake recipes before deciding (by majority vote) on the NY Times version.  “Not as good as the Joy of Cooking recipe”, said Tom, “but still a good choice!”

My thoughts on the experience?  If I were doing it again, I would not rely on this one cookbook.  I trusted it too much, and we could have done better.  Instead, I would research the best IMG_9588recipes and reviews from a number of (mainly online) sources, keeping the best of what we have discovered.  I am already trying out more maple recipes at home.  (This week I made Maple-Pecan Sticky Buns – yum.) Also, learning from our experiments, I am now more comfortable substituting maple syrup for white sugar in a variety of recipes (1 for 1 volume, but reduce liquid).

Let the sap run on….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So you wanna make syrup?

IMG_9376A small sugaring venture is a lot of time, money, and fun. If you are planning on starting a small operation of 150 taps, equipment could be around $4000, assuming you already have a sugarhouse built. This will make about 35-50 gallons of syrup. If you sell your syrup for $32 per gallon your revenue for one year would be $1300 to $1600. After operational costs you would have to work at least five years to make a profit.

Whats involved with making syrup? It takes most of your time and attention during the 6 week season.  From laying out and checking the lines to actually boiling the sap to make syrup is a lot of work, but is 110% worth it. In the end you want to sell your syrup, by finding people to buy this tasty treat.

If you still want to do sugaring after all the time and effort, this is what you will need to get you started:IMG_9488

  • Evaporator, wood or oil fire; sap goes in syrup comes out!
  • Tubing
  • Tubing washer
  • Gasoline powered tapper
  • Storage tanks
  • Filters
  • Fuel, jars and other small equipment

 

 

Maple Fudge

Today at Smoky House we made maple fudge.

  1.  We measured out two cups of sugar.
  2.  We measured 1 cup of the best pure maple syrup around.
  3.  We measured a 1/2 cup of light cream.
  4.  We added two tablespoons of butter.
  5.  We mixed them all and put in a saucepan on the burner until it started to boil.
  6.  We clipped a candy thermometer on to the side of the pan.
  7.  We boiled it to 238 F.
  8.  We let it sit for an hour or until temp reaches 110.
  9.  We beat it until color lightens and softens.
  10.  We let it sit until it hardens and cracks.

We expected it to turn out hardened and cracked, but it was soft and caramel like instead. It tasted like maple caramel. I think we needed more cream. We didn’t whisk it long enough. It turned out decent, but not how we expected it to. If it were to come out right, I would want to make it again.

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A Fun Filled Day

This day we froze our butts off walking deep in the snow learning about maple sap lines   along with pulling out taps.

The snow got in my boots and froze my ankles right off! But as we were walking I could only think I was having fun so it didn’t bother me. Pimg_9382ulling out the taps was really fun even being really short; testing my strength was the best time of it all! there is a lot of walking and a lot of little critters that you got to make sure you watch out for cause they sure can chew a hole and get some tasty sap to eat!

Syrup of the Smokey House

As someone who hasn’t lived in the state of Vermont for long, being outdoors and disconnected from the city life and rush of Florida and Chicago is quite a refresher. Coming to Smokey House Tutorial Center my first time is equivalent to experiencing your first Christmas as a child. Being so far away from civilization has a charm that I can’t quite describe. The air, ambience, peacefulness, and environment here is like nothing I’ve experienced. On my first day we took a tour trudging through and viewing snow covered gardens, maple sap tanks as well as the farm store.

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I also had the pleasure of viewing things that the other groups had been up to such as the quinzees that the students had built, which are essentially igloos but instead of ice it is snow that is made into a big pile and left to freeze, then is dug out, on the frozen pond a week prior to my arrival. If you’re a outdoors person or just enjoy a change from time to time then I heartily recommend that you look into the Smokey House Tutorial Center. Here you will get a chance to tap maple trees, learn survival skills and experience learning from a different point of view with more hands on work and the luxury of doing more out of the classroom work. In any case, the Smokey House Tutorial Center is a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn some valuable information that I wouldn’t pass up for the world.