Tag Archives: maple syrup

the Force of sap

It takes a one-tree sugar bush four years to fully mature. Either that or we just had good sap weather. We hit our all-time record for sap production: 21.5 litres! Hooray! Enough for a respectable-sized bottle of syrup!

Then I introduced my children to Star Wars and we started watching the movies together. I got into it and was sitting upstairs with them happily watching Return of the Jedi and answering questions from the audience:

“How come when Jabba the Hut talks the words are up on the screen but not for R2D2 or Chewbacca?

When they burned Darth Vader was the actor already dead and in the suit or did they just burn the suit?

Did Obiwan start training Luke but Yoda finished training him? But both Luke’s teachers died.

Does Princess Leia know she has the Force? How? Oh yeah, she knew Luke was calling her when he was hanging under the Cloud City.

When the Ewoks are drumming on the Storm Trooper helmets are their heads still in them?”  

This went on for some time and I forgot I was boiling sap outside. I burned five litres of sweet beautiful sap into a smokey singed mess that nearly ruined my best pot.

Still, that left 16.5 litres to be (carefully this time!) reduced to 500ml of syrup. Somehow I’m getting more than the 40:1 ratio but I’m not complaining. Pulling the spile today. Thanks, One-Tree! May the Force be with you.


the sap is running

I tapped the tree on Saturday. Three days later I’ve got 2 litres! That’s more than the total sap yield for dismal 2012. The weather’s a bit warmer than I’d like for maximum sap seepage. We’re currently under winter storm warning and all we hear is rain. Still, hope remains high for syrup season 2013:


maple syrup fail

The tree is in full leaf and the sap hasn’t flowed for weeks. This update is overdue but first I had to grieve the complete failure of syrup season 2012.  Final yield of sap: 1600ml. Final yield of syrup: 1600 ÷ 40 = don’t-bother-boiling-it-down.


A friend’s tree down the block had a good run. I don’t know why our tree didn’t. We tapped earlier than ever before – in February. The tree also budded earlier than it has before thanks to the summer-like weather in March.

Global warming is ruining my crop!

one year in 90 seconds

Happy New Year!

Last year I took a photo out the back window every day. Yesterday I took the last one. They’re a bit dull to look at on the Shuttercal site so rolled them all into this video. Watch for the sap bucket in March!

end of syrup season

I was watching the buds form on the maple tree and wondering when I should pull the spile. Then we had a bunch of kids over playing in the backyard this weekend and one of them pulled it out! I was worried I’d miss a day or two of sap flow which actually makes a difference to the final syrup crop when you’re only dealing with one tree. However, I think it was time and I couldn’t be bothered to put the thing back in again so that was the end of 2011 sap collection. Final yield: 17 litres.

I did the final boil-off this morning and filtered it through a cloth into an old syrup bottle and jar. I’m much more interested in the process of syrup making than I am in the final product so now I have to remember to actually make pancakes and use this stuff up before next spring.

drip, drip, drip

This makes me happy:

syrup 2011

I tapped the tree today. I’m hoping for a repeat of bountiful 2009 and not a repeat of pitiful 2010. The sap is flowing! Stay tuned…

a bad year for maple syrup

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.

introducing…one-tree syrup!


I’m ridiculously proud. One tree, many buckets of sap, many litres of fuel spent, many hours boiling off…one bottle of syrup. Still worth it. It’s remarkably delicious, too. I’m not a connoisseur de syrop but it really does taste toasty and wonderful.

Our friends had the neighbourhood group over for dinner tonight as a spring get-together and our Berlin send-off. We poured our one bottle of ‘One-Tree’ over ice cream for dessert:




Still some left for pancakes.

Admittedly, I went a little nuts over the one beautiful bottle. Here it is swinging on its own tree (I’ve plugged the leaky tree -hole with wax):


home stretch for syrup

It’s been a whirlwind around here. We leave for Berlin in two weeks and I’ve accepted an urban planning research contract and have to present my findings the day before we leave. We’re juggling the kids and the jobs these days and maple syrup has taken a back seat. I was feeling overwhelmed by the daily bounty of sap so I pulled the spile a few days ago. The poor tree has been leaking and early spring ants have been lapping it up.


Our final yield was 18 litres. I couldn’t keep up and our neighbours stepped in and collected several buckets and did some boiling down for us. Now we have three or four (I’d have to check the next-door fridge) jugs of reduced sap the colour of apple juice. It still has a ways to go before becoming syrup.


Well-meaning folks have been warning me against boiling down sap inside the house. It looks harmless enough but apparently it can coat your ceilings and walls in sticky residue. My mother has vivid memories of her uncle’s cottage kitchen dripping with syrup. Boiling on the barebeque wasn’t working very well so I went out and got an electric burner. It’s plugged in outside and sap is boiling away as I type.

It’s like trailer park meets sugar bush:


Since I took that photo the sun has gone down and I’m now periodically hunched over the pot, freezing cold, with a flashlight aimed at the steam, trying to read the thermometer and salvage some syrup before scorching the pot. If all goes well, we should get about half a litre. I’m really really going to savour that pancake.