Sunday, February 21, 2010

Maple Syrup

It is a month early, but we have started tapping trees. Andy was as sick as a dog when he went out there and tapped on a beautiful, 40 degree day. It was a tough decision to make, to tap or not to tap was the question. But after a full week of gorgeous March-like weather and no cooling trend in sight, he could no longer wait. The trees have been tapped since Wednesday, 4 full days now, and we have gathered 120 gallons. That is enough to make about 3 gallons of syrup. Apparently the sap from early runs is the highest in sugar content, so it is the best. We will have some to sell at the next farmers market, so if you are a CSA member and were hoping to get Maple Syrup, stop in soon because it sells out quickly!

Here is our operation in a nutshell:

We have about 100 taps out, no more than 3 taps in a tree (and those are big trees). We are hoping to put more out, but we need to find more clean 5 gallon pails with lids first. Andy chooses the maple that he wants to drill based on its size, the look of the crown, and its location. He then drills a hole about 1 1/2 inch deep on the south facing side of the tree.

Then he gently hammers the tap in until it stops. Hang the bucket off of the hook, and the sap just starts running! It's like magic. The sap is clear and slightly sweet.
When the buckets are full, he goes around with a sled and collects into these giant pails that he got from "The Bucket Man". He pulls the sled down to the sap house and starts boiling. It takes a full day of boiling in 3 different pans to get the sap to the right sugar content. Today will be the first time we "draw off" the syrup, so that means blueberry pancakes for supper tonight!
Apple Pecan Coffee Cake

2 1/2 Cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 Cup sugar
1 Cup maple syrup
1/3 Cup canola oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups apple, peeled, cored and chopped.
1/4 Cup chopped pecans
1/2 Cup confectioners sugar
1/2 Cup maple syrup
1/4 cup chopped pecans
~ Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a bundt pan. Stir flour, baking powder, baking soda, Cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together and set aside. In a large bowl, beat sugar, maple syrup, oil, and eggs together. Stir in the dry ingredients, then fold in the apples and nuts. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Turn out onto plate when cake is slightly cooled.
~ Stir together the topping ingredients and drizzle over the top of the warm cake.

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