In yesterday's saga, we saw sap being collected from sugar maple trees. Today, it's boiling down the sap to make that nectar of the tree gods, maple syrup!
Here is our friend Eugene's wood-fired syrup evaporator:
And here's what fuels that baby:
Eugene had his wood-splitter outside the sugar shack, and nipped outside to prep some fuel:
As is always the case when Eugene and I get together, he immediately put me to work...
...while Gordon lounged about, and Abby the Border Collie kept an eye on the outside world:
Eugene's sugar shack, which doubles as a storage shed the rest of the year, has roof vents that open to let out smoke from the wood fire.
Eugene's nephew Billy kept a close eye on the thermometer!
The white tank is full of sap, which is fed into the evaporator. The black hose at the top leads to a bigger drum of sap. Eugene uses a sump pump to push the sap out of the big drum into this white tank. Gravity feeds the sap from the white tank into the evaporator.
Here's an aerial view of the evaporator:
The round thing sitting on top, on the left, is a funnel with filter that you use in the bottling process. It isn't attached to the evaporator, and you'll see it in use later.
The sap enters the evaporator on the right, then goes through a series of baffles as it boils down into syrup.
Can you see how the syrup gets darker in each section?
Eugene has a de-foaming agent he sprinkles in when the syrup gets too bubbly!
Now, I am about to introduce you to nirvana in a styrofoam cup. Have you ever had...
...hot syrup right out of the evaporator, not quite thickened to final consistency?
Eugene gave me some to try while I stood watch over the sap inflow valve. It made me very very very happy. In the end, I drank so much that I got a sugar buzz. Then I crashed from the sugar buzz and needed a nap. Luckily, Eugene's charming wife France brought us pizza at that point, which helped equalize my blood sugar.
Right after Gordon showed me his syrup, I stole the cup and drank the rest.
That blue drum behind him is full of sap.
Not long after this, I took off my jacket. It gets toasty warm in the sugar shack! Not to mention steamy: instant facial!
...hard at work, supervising me.
And here is clear sap warming up...
...on its way to becoming maple syrup.
More tomorrow, but here are some more oldies from 1969...
On the left is my Dad with me under his armpit, watching maple sap boil outside in big cauldrons over an open fire. On the right is me and my Mum.
Dad with a sap bucket, Mum with the horses.
Guess who, again? Why was I wearing a skirt to the sugar bush?
Sugar shack in the woods!