I have a friend. His name is Tommy. Tommy is one of those people that you find out something different and cool about him every time you talk to him. He is fascinating and one of the nicest people I know. Here’s a few things you should know about Tommy.
He has a Christmas Tree Farm that has been in his family since the 50’s.
He has trout ponds on his Farm where he raises trout.
He trains and on occasion races sled dogs.
He’s a reformed civil engineer. He is currently a process and manufacturing engineer.
He teaches fly fishing and guides trips along the river.
He’s in a relationship with my good friend Meghan. This works very well for me. It’s such a bonus when your best buds date really nice people, don’t ya think?
One of the coolest things about Tommy is that he has sugar maples on his farm which he taps for maple syrup. He also knows how I geek out over stuff like that so he invited Brette and I to come up for a visit/tour during maple syrup season.
I was SOOO excited! Tommy has been my maple syrup supplier since last summer. We go through it like crazy here especially with how much granola Brette eats.
I had no idea how much is involved to get actual syrup.
Let’s go looking for sugar bush!
First you have to tap the trees.
Once they are tapped, you have to empty your jugs/bags every day or so. This really depends on the weather. A cold night followed by a warm day will have them running pretty steady.
Doesn’t it look like water? It pretty much tastes like it too.
Despite Brette’s very solid logic, squeezing the tree does not help the sap run faster.
After you haul it in from the woods, it goes through it’s first filtering. First, you have to let your dog take a dip in the trout pond. It’ll make her happy and your car stink. Not necessarily a win-win, but it was fun to see Lily get so excited.
Now you can get to the filtering.
Then the boiling starts. You have to have a slow trickle of sap going into the boiling mixture. Adding too much at once would lower the temperature and kill the boil. You don’t want that.
As you add more sap, it gets filtered for a second time.
It’s important to keep the fire going.
It boils for a long time. It helps if it’s nice out and you can sit outside and shoot the shit with a pal and maybe have a beer or two.
While you’re waiting, it’s important to smell the sap. It kind of smells like kettle corn. It’s intoxicating.
It boils for a long long time. Once it boils down to a certain point, you move the process inside to finish it on the stove.
I don’t have photos of this part as we didn’t get to that point in the process in our quick trip out to the farm. I do know that you boil down the sap even further until it reaches 219 degrees F. That is when it becomes syrup. Anything over 219 degrees and you will have maple candy.
The syrup is canned in sterilized jars and is ready to share with friends.
It takes that much sap to make a quart of syrup. Isn’t that crazy? No wonder it’s so expensive!
Brette showing off our take home syrup -which is from last season and as I sat down to write this, that jar is already gone. I’m telling you, we like our syrup. It’s one of the major food groups….candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup. Name that movie.
If you happen to be like us and have an abundant supply, here are a couple of recipes to try.
Brette likes to drizzle maple syrup on his yogurt and it’s also delicious on the classics like pancakes and waffles. YUM!
Here are a few other fun shots from our trip to the farm.