Sunday, March 22, 2009

Steam's Up!... (Part 2)

This is a different view of the sugarhouse, you can see the huge tank on the wagon behind the tractor. Sap is transferred from holding tanks in the woods at the end of the pipelines and then pumped into the large covered tank from where it runs into the boiling pans. As I said yesterday, all systems and tanks are cleaned and sterilized prior to use.

This thermometer is attached to final pan of boiling syrup. You can see the needle is right at the exact mark for "syrup." My son waits until it's one degree higher to begin the draw off. The reason is that it will cool in the drawing off process and usually end up one degree below the syrup mark, making the average temperature right on the correct reading.

The syrup is drawn off by a faucet at the bottom of the final pan. Usually two large stainless steel pails full for one "run" of syrup. The pails of syrup are then lifted and poured through a filter.

A spigot with a lever is at the bottom of the filter chamber and it goes directly into new jugs and is sealed.
That is the story of "Pure" Adirondack maple syrup. Other areas in the northeast are famous for maple products, especially Vermont. Maine, Massechusetts and New Hampshire also produce syrup as well as New York. Canada produces much of what you find in your grocery stores. There is little difference, just the polical boundaries of the states and provinces! Some "old timers" say they can taste the difference from maples that are on either north or south facing slopes. All of that is too little a difference for me to worry about!

Pancakes and sausage any one? They are hot off the griddle and the syrup is ready!


I will be holding a drawing on Saturday, March 28th, of all the names that have commented on the two "Steam's Up!" posts and the winner will receive .... A quart of Pure Adirondack Maple Syrup!





30 comments:

montucky said...

This is fascinating! What a process! I couldn't believe here is a special thermometer made just for maple syrup.

How much sap can be drawn from a tree without damaging the tree? Are those native trees and are they planted or do they grow naturally?

Jean said...

Awesome posts! I love the pics of your sugar house with the steam rising. Thanks! Jean

Betsy from Tennessee said...

OH Cedar, this is just SO interesting. Thanks so much for the posts. You are sweet to offer the giveaway.

Have a great day.
Hugs,
Betsy

NCmountainwoman said...

Our recent house guests gave us some of their maple syrup from their farm in Minnesota. They tap only a few trees, so the gift was especially appreciated.

Aleta said...

Hi, Cedar - Wow! What an amazing process! I never knew what all went into making maple syrup and I am stunned that it takes so much of the sap to make one gallon of syrup! Thank you for sharing this interesting story. What wonderful pictures and narrative! It is inspiring that your family sticks with the traditional way of making the syrup. Too often this world rushes things and takes away its specialness. Reading your posts made me hungry! I would be honored to be considered in your giveaway!

Beth Niquette said...

What a wonderful set of pictures! Wow! Well written, beautifully photographed.

Small Pines said...

WOW! What terrific pictures of the sugarhouse and the process. You know Cedar, the more layers you peel back, the more I realize how fascinating your family is. Love the initials - that's one of my favorite things in old buildings, the tradition of initials and dates on rafters and beams.

Cedar ... said...

I'm so glad you all find this interesting. I'm afraid we take it a bit for granted in our family. It's nice to look with fresh eyes!

Montucky,... Good question, I'll bet others have wondered too. There is a practice of only putting just so many taps for the circumference measurement of the trees. That keeps the trees from being over-tapped. I'm sorry that I can't quote the formula, I don't know exactly what it is, just that it exists. A maple sugar maker would never want to damage their trees. These maples are not planted, just natural growth.

Nancy said...

Very interesting! I was going to make my honey some buttermilk pancakes this am but then realized we had no maple syrup. Can't have pancakes without it!

Char said...

yummmm - love the shots and the description of the process. do you ever make the snow candy too with the syrup? that always sounded like so much fun when I read books as a child.

Cedar ... said...

Char, my mother-in-law used to make what she called "sugar on snow" which was probably what you are thinking about. It is syrup boiled down farther and when drizzled over snow it hardens into a carmel like consistency. Enough to pull your fillings out, but ohh, so delicious! She would have sugar on snow parties with fresh home made bread and butter,... and snow or ice cream. This was back in the 1950s and 1960s.

itsmynature said...

You know, for some reason this trip through maple syrup making has me reflecting back on social studies classes of my youth. I truly don't know if I learned of maple syrup making back then but it feels like it. That was the stuff we were taught back in the 50s and 60s. Makes me wonder what they teach now?

Thank you for sharing, my friend!

Thistlebrooms said...

Ok, I need a stack of Pancakes now...My mouth is watering!!! AND I need some of your Fantastic Syrup on them...
Thanks so much for sharing your Wonderful giveaway...
Enjoy your Spring weather...Marilyn

catharus said...

Used to do this when I was a kid, in Ulster Co.

Cedar ... said...

John of Adirondack Almanack, thanks for reminder! AA is now in my blog list for Adirondack sites!

Shellmo said...

I would love to see this process in person!! And great giveaway!! They will go great w/ my blueberry pancakes.... :)

Michele said...

Hugs♥

troutbirder said...

Do I get one chance for each comment? It's raining out here today and I'd have time for several hundred.

Cedar ... said...

Troutbirder, one per person,... hee hee....

Carole said...

We just went to a maple sugar festival over the weekend - you did a great job giving a virtual tour of a sugar shack! There sure is nothing like REAL maple syrup though, is there? It's really not like the storebought stuff at all. As a matter of fact, we are going to have pancakes for dinner tonight to use the syrup we just bought (we were going to buy a little jug like you have pictured, but for $1 more we fell for the hokey glass "leaf shaped" bottle :-)

girlfromtexas said...

To me, this is such a piece of pure Americana. I'm so glad families like yours still do it this way. Or maybe I'm too dumb to know...is there a choice? Do big companies de-personalize it all? Or does the nature of the beast dictate hands-on procedures. In any event, I love seeing the process "up close and personal."

Cedar ... said...

I've had several people ask me if there is another way to do this. Yes, the totally modern way is with oil-fired and covered pans and using a "reverse osmosis" system that takes a lot of the water out of the sap prior to the actual rendering down for syrup. I stress that our family continues to use the traditional method, wood-fired, all done "by hand"... As it isn't our primary business we will probably never put forth the finances to convert to the modern way. I'm so glad you found this interesting!

Michele said...

such a neat process on how this is all done!
Pancakes is all I live on almost daily.
It's my favorite food... if I could, I would eat it 3 times a day! Hehehe...

I thank you for all your wonderful comments while I was sick...
You are a great friend!
Hugs♥

A New England Life said...

Both of these posts are excellent and really show how much of a process there actually is to making pure maple syrup.

It's been many moons since I've been to a sugar shack while it was in operation. I do remember going as a kid on a school trip though! They gave us a little piece of maple sugar candy I believe.

Does your family make any of the candy? Or Maple Butter? Oh how I crave Maple Cream! Yum!

stphoto said...

Linked in from montucky's blog.

Oh, man, put in the contest for a quart of that heavenly sweet syrup you are making. Yum...yum!

I try to buy NY made when I can at the local farmer's market.

grammy said...

Hi, I came by from Shelly's log cabin. I have never seen a sugar house before. How fun. Enter me in your drawing please (o:

Mountain Woman said...

Thank you for sharing this process with us. I've enjoyed it and I sure wish I was there to enjoy pancakes and your syrup.
I loved the photos.

Anne said...

Yummmmm.... I've been blogging about tapping -- I'll have to go take some pix too. Mind if I link to your mapley posts?

anne
at-home-in-logs.blogspot.com

BAC said...

Great post. Reminds me of my days back in New England.

Barbara

Gail said...

Though I am to late for the drawing, I found you post on making syrup very interesting. Sounds like a wonderful treat.