Saturday morning was cold, gray and snow flurries were blowing in the air. Somehow, it seemed like the perfect weather to explore something we had never seen before...the making of maple syrup. We have lived here almost 10 years and until we read an article in our paper last Friday, we had no idea that we could drive 20 miles and see this done.
Kent Phillips and his family have been making maple syrup since the early 1900's. Kent started following his father (who was born in 1915) around as a child and now he is helped by his daughter and her family. He calls the barn that houses the equipment the "sugar shack" and that describes it very well.
The syrup is gathered into these blue plastic bags, although I understand that if a tree has multiple taps on it, a bucket is still used. They go through the woods on four wheelers, collecting the sap which is turned into the syrup. From what they explained to us, it requires 40 gallons of sap to boil down to 1 gallon of syrup.
This is the sap after it is collected. It had a crust of ice on top and really looked like dirty water. My husband tasted it (not me...nope...gotta boil mine) and said it really tasted like barely sweet water...almost no taste at all.
The next step is to move the sap to this large container so that gravity can force it into the boiler. The pictures look strange because it was so steamy in the sugar shack that at times we could barely see anything.
This is the evaporator which does all the magic. It is heated with a wood fire and the room smells of sweet syrup and woodsmoke. I was freezing, but it was still fun to see.
The sap moves through troughs in the evaporator as the steam rises and the syrup color darkens and becomes more flavorful. It is then moved to a machine where it is manually put into containers and sealed. Of course, we came home with fresh syrup. It is simply delicious. I want to pour it on everything. It isn't as thick as the "fake" maple syrup and the flavor is much lighter. I have had real maple syrup before, but never any that was so fresh it was barely cool. You can check out the Phillip's Facebook page here.
I am joining Susan @ A Southern Daydreamer
for Outdoor Wednesday