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Posts tagged ‘food’

Syrup Experiment: the conclusion

My husband ended his experiment about two weeks ago. It has gotten too warm to tap the maple trees. They have begun to start to bud. I understand that once the budding begins the sap’s taste is not good for syrup. So what have we learned from this experiment?

It can be done in the South when the temperatures are just right. This means lows below freezing and the highs in the forties or fifties. It is a very time-consuming process. For the ten gallon ¬†of syrup we would collect at a time, it took over ten hours to boil it down. You just can’t put the syrup on a heat source and leave it. You have to continue adding more sap and making sure that it doesn’t boil down too far where it will burn.

While it is a lot of work, is it worth it? My husband says yes! He was able to get out in the woods during the cold winter. It gave us both exercise by walking up and down the hills collecting the sap. The maple trees we found and tapped were not just off the road. Many of the trees were over a half a mile in to the woods. The buckets, filled with the sap, were very heavy adding more benefit. We were able to produce something from scratch and take pride in this.

Having said all of that, it is not any cheaper making your own syrup? I now have an appreciation on why maple syrup is so expensive in the stores. We used propane as a heat source this year which proved to be very expensive. When you put the dollars that we spent along with the time needed to produce the syrup it was probably more expensive than buying it from the store.

What if anything will we do differently next year? We are looking at having someone locally make us an evaporator pan. (This is the pan that you put on a heat source to boil down the syrup. It is usually not deep and has more surface space directly in contact with the heat source.) This year we used a turkey roasting pan, and a variety of pans to boil the syrup. We are also looking at making a fire pit where we can use fire wood as a heat source. We live in the woods and have access to over 200 acres of woods on top of that. The availability of free fire wood is much cheaper than propane.

We have a year to make these improvements. We will have something to look forward to after the deer season next year. Until then, we will be able to enjoy and share the syrup we made this year.


Happy New Year

Well it’s New Year’s eve and I have been reminiscing a lot over the last few weeks. Growing up, we had a few traditions that really took hold of my heart. In reflection today, I noticed that all of these traditions had to deal with food and having patience. My sister and I were not allowed to drink soda/coke /pop (depending where you live) that often nor were we allowed to eat junk food.  We always thought our parents were unfair when all of our friends were allowed these goodies.

Instead, we were only allowed these drinks or foods on very specially occasions. We were given cokes on Christmas eve when we had chili with our dinners. (I think these stemmed from when our paternal grandparents would share Christmas with us. The only other time we were allowed a coke or soda was when we had to go and stay at my mom’s office. My mother was a professor at Emory and occasionally either because we were sick or there was no one to watch us we were taken to her office to sit while she taught class and given a coke in a glass bottle.

We were given junk food especially chips and dip only on New Year’s eve. My family would eat a New Year’s eve dinner and then after 9:00 p.m. the junk food would be placed on the coffee table in front of the college football game that was on the t.v.

Though out the year, I would crave chips, dip and cokes but knew that I could not partake until that special occasion. What this taught me was patience and the enjoyment of waiting and anticipating something that was oh, so good. I would not trade that experience for the world since it kept me healthy and made those occasions truly special to me. Why else would I long for those days and think of the occasions when partaking those special foods and drink today? I hope your New Year is a happy and blessed one. I also hope that you have childhood traditions that you can pass down to someone else or share with a sibling like I can.