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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.  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 steam table pan setup.  I made a few gallons and was hooked.

Like most of my homestead activities, I'd say I'm a "professional amateur" at maple syrup making: better than average, but not willing to invest in a truly professional system.  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 18-20 trees.  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, blizzard, or eclipse.

Other than a once-glitzy evaporator that has its fair share of dings and dents, I'm perfectly happy with where I'm at.  There's no electricity in my sugar shack so I won't be adding blowers, reverse osmosis, or even lights any time soon.  All I'd like to do now is figure out how to keep rabid raccoons from dangling over the evaporator mid-boil.  Let me know if you have any ideas.

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

2023: 4.9 gallons

2024: 9.2 gallons

Sugar Shack.jpg
Maple Syurp Gradient.jpg
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