Sunday, March 11, 2012

First maple syrup batch-- accompanied by a complete breakdown of willpower

Attempting to be a responsible maple sugarer, I duly harvested a little more than eleven quarts of raw syrup two days after I tapped the trees. At a loss for containers, I gathered all the juice pitchers and empty milk jugs available (with and without lids), poured and stored them in the fridge. Thankfully. That night, a terrific wind storm blew my buckets right off the trees as well as a few shingles off the roof. Only today have I gotten around to re-affixing the taps into the trees and hanging the buckets. By the way the taps immediately dripped, I would guess I have a few more quarts of liquid left to gather.

Yesterday, I began the boiling. All the resources say that you're supposed to boil outside, but we, in our monstrous ancient farmhouse, are blessed with a summer kitchen in which we brew beer and wine, can food, and repot plants-- it is purely a utility room, so I felt no qualms about boiling syrup in there-- I did however crack a window, just in case. (If anyone has ever brewed beer, the general film over all surfaces afterward is nothing to the aftereffects of maple syrup making.)

I began with my roughly eleven quarts of raw syrup. After six hours in a low rolling boil (stirring vigorously about every fifteen minutes) I had about fourteen ounces of usable, delicious, homemade maple syrup! I hot-packed it into sterilized Ball jars (best container on earth) and sealed the full jar for storage. I will put my three-quarters-full jar in the fridge for immediate consumption. I feel an urge to make copious amounts of French toast coming on.

During this process I spent a lot of time in the summer kitchen. The seeds are back there. And the potting soil. And they were staring at me the whole time. Just staring. Boring a hole in my head until I began counting weeks until May 15th. And, you know what, we're only a little more than eight weeks (we're actually about ten) there. And peas and beans are technically cold weather crops. And those Chinese Lantern seeds I bought do need at least eight weeks indoors as seedlings to do well outdoors in this cold, cold climate.

So I started 72 seeds today. I placed the flats on a shelf behind the woodstove so they are warm enough to germinate. Hoping and hoping that spring is around the corner and they can survive. 

But the snowdrops are out, the daffodils are poking through the soil, and spring can't be far behind...

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