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Maple Syrup

I grew up in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania in a town that was so well known for it's maple syrup making, they had a Maple Festival every spring to celebrate.  My favorite festival snack was maple cotton candy.  It was damn good!  For all my love of maple syrup growing up, I rarely ate it because it was so expensive.  Nor did I make it myself, because boiling hundreds of gallons of sap on a very hot fire isn't something most kids are allowed to do.  Instead we shot potato cannons at each other.

Fast forward to being a landed gent in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  Our hobby farm has plenty of big old field maples scattered about, and late winter is a time for twiddling thumbs waiting for spring to truly arrive.  What's a guy to do, other than go waterfall hunting and spring crust hiking?  Make maple syrup!  I finally began fulfilling my dream in 2015 with a cheap-o steam table pan setup.  I made a few gallons and was hooked.

I wouldn't say I'm straight pro at maple syrup making yet, but after a few years and many long days spent working in the sugar shack, I'm probably close to expert-amateur status.  I used to boil on concrete block contraptions, but in late-2020 I invested in a Half Pint evaporator and gave up on the junk heap once and for all.  My sap is stored in 5 gallon buckets behind the sugar shack, encased in snow piles to keep it fresh until I can boil next.  I have 38 taps on maybe 18 trees, many of which are huge and produce over a gallon of sap each tap per day!  In a good day I can boil my way through 50-75 gallons of sap, netting anywhere between 1.5-2 gallons of syrup in one go depending on the sugar content of the sap.  I've got a huge stash of wood inside the sugar shack, which was originally built as a one-stall horse barn. This means I can boil rain, shine, or blizzard.

I've got plenty of improvements I'd like to make, including a blower system, some sort of hood to keep sap from dripping off the metal ceiling back into the pan or on my head, drainage for the dirt floor to keep the mud at bay, and a way to keep rabid raccoons from harassing me mid-boil.  I'll get to those someday.

Yearly Production Numbers

2015: 4.5 gallons

2016: 6.5 gallons

2017: 4.6 gallons

2018: 4.8 gallons

2019: 10 gallons

2020: 7.5 gallons

2021: 6 gallons

2022: 11.1 gallons

Sugar Shack.jpg
Maple Syurp Gradient.jpg
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