By all accounts 2010 is a bad year for maple syrup. Warm weather came early and the trees budded, stopping their early spring rhythm of pumping sap up to the branches during the day and down to the roots at night (dripping a bit in the bucket for us on the way). This year, warm weather meant low sap yields. And when you’re only tapping one tree, as we are, that means one rather modest bottle of syrup.
I tapped the tree on March 9th and got almost no sap for a week. We’d already had one very warm weekend and I wondered whether there would be any sap at all this year.
By the end of March we’d had only a few days of real sap flow, with the temperature dipping below zero during the night and above zero during the day. Just when I thought production was picking up, this happened:
Buds. When a maple tree starts budding, the syrup season is over. This year’s yield: just under five litres of sap. Last year we had 18 litres and pulled the spile before it stopped flowing because I couldn’t keep up.
Nevertheless, I wasn’t about to let those five precious litres of sap go to waste so I boiled them off, first outside, and then inside in our smallest pot:
In the end, I turned off the stove before the temperature reached that crucial mark that tells me I have real maple syrup. I just couldn’t bear the thought of boiling it all away. So I stopped short and we’re left with one small jar of almost-syrup. It tastes like the real thing but it pours a little thinly. Here’s hoping for a longer freeze-and-thaw season in 2011.