Syrupin’ Time Keeps This Fam­ily Run­ning

Farm & Ranch Living - - FARM TABLE - ME­GAN EMERY, AGE 20

THE FIRST WEEK OF MARCH, things get crazy at my house. We wash buck­ets, clean the sugar shack, pu­rify jars and tap trees. We hook up the sled to the snow­mo­bile. It’s syrupin’ time.

As March moves for­ward, the sap will run be­cause the days are warm and the nights are cold.

On a typ­i­cal day of sap­ping in mid-March, we’ll wake up early, and usu­ally five of us kids will go with Dad in his truck to our first lo­ca­tion. One of my brothers will fol­low with a snow­mo­bile and sled in tow. The back of the truck will be filled with buck­ets.

We park the truck at the top of a hill and the snow­mo­bile be­low, in the val­ley. Then we set out, car­ry­ing empty buck­ets. We climb to the top, where our taps start, and work our way down, emp­ty­ing buck­ets on trees as we go.

When my buck­ets are full, I put on the lids, slide down to the val­ley, put them in the sled and grab more.

We bring the full buck­ets out of the val­ley, us­ing the snow­mo­bile. Then we load the buck­ets into the truck.

The snow­mo­bile takes a new batch of empty buck­ets back down. This process is re­peated un­til we cover all the trees. When we head home, we empty the buck­ets into clean garbage cans out­side of the sugar shack. This keeps the sap cold un­til we can boil it.

The first batch goes from one of the cans to the pre­heater, then the boil­ing pan. We strain the sap as it goes into the pan. Through­out the boil­ing, we con­tinue to run a hand­held strainer through the sap.

We keep the fire stacked up and watch as the boil starts. When we have a rolling boil, we main­tain a close eye on the tem­per­a­ture. When hot enough, we empty the pan into a bucket and take it to the house. Some of us work at strain­ing the syrup two more times, pu­ri­fy­ing it un­til it’s ab­so­lutely clear. While it’s still hot, we put it into jars. And that’s maple syrup: liq­uid gold.

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