Saturday, March 26, 2011

Syrup-fest concludes!

And now the conclusion to Syrup-fest 2011, at least on the blog. In real life, Eugene is still collecting sap and making syrup, or will be when the current cold snap ends and the sap starts running again. Optimal temperatures for the sap run are 5C in daytime and  -5C at night. We haven't made it much above 0C this week and it has been in the minus double-digits at night. Brrr! But warmer temps are on the way.

Here we are in the sugar shack, with the two boys goofing off while I stand watch over the evaporator.  Abby the Border Collie is standing guard at the door.

I rarely see Eugene without an orange on his person!

Abby went out, but now she wants back in!

Abby often lies with her front paws daintily crossed this way. She's a lovely dog.

She really wanted me to share my pizza lunch with her.

Back to syrup! Eugene does the final boiling-down of the sap in a large pot over a propane stove. The magic density on the hydrometer in this case is 58. I think Eugene said you might be after a different number depending on where you are in the boiling-down process.

Voilà... 58! Time to bottle the syrup.


Thing of sweet beauty!

Here Eugene pours the hot syrup into a large funnel. The funnel sits over a filter, which catches the last of the debris in the liquid, and sits over a metal coffee urn that Eugene uses as a bottling device.

Ladling hot syrup into the filter. It's smart to wear gloves when handling boiling hot syrup.

Pouring in the last of it.

 I started to worry when Eugene asked me if I'd ever burned my crotch before. Er, no. By the time I sat down to bottle the hot syrup, I was totally paranoid. Here I am, concentrating on filling my first bottle. I managed to spill some over the sides, but after the first bottle I did much better!

When we were all finished bottling, Eugene put me to work sweeping up ashes and bits of wood. Eugene always puts me to work.


"You missed a spot!"


A job well done, and really fun day. Thanks Eugene!

And a few more sugaring off memories from 1969...

 Me and my Dad admiring the work horses.

I think this log was carved out as a bucket to collect sap!

I have always loved the woods.

Read more about maple syrup on Wikipedia. This was my favourite tidbit:
"Québécois sometimes refer to imitation maple syrup as sirop de poteau ("pole syrup"), a joke referring to the syrup as having been made by tapping telephone poles."

Have a sweet weekend, everyone!


  1. Hi Natalie:
    This has been great fun and very educational even for us Canadians. Eugene has skin like a baby and I expect that is from his addiction to oranges. He looks like a jolly old soul.
    I put a shout out to your blog on mine so others can see why maple syrup costs what it does. You did an amazing job with instructions and photos. Have a great weekend and hugs to all the kitties. Deb=^..^=x5

  2. Oh, I can't begin to imagine the heavenly aromas that must be coming from this process! Yum.

  3. That brown syrup is beautiful. What a lovely and educational series of posts! Your pics are perfect.

  4. Another great post!
    The first photo of you and your Dad looks like a lithograph.

  5. Deb, Eugene has his moments of jolliness! :) He also has a wide range of nicknames for me, some of which I can't repeat here. ; GLad you liked the posts.

    Ahab, everything smelled good. Being outside smelled good too! Cold spring air.

    Thank you Cog Dis, so glad you enjoyed!

    Thanks LBM. And I am determined to find the negatives for these old photos. I have all my Mum's stuff and I'm sure they're in there somewhere. The quality of the contact sheet is just not great. That said, the lithograph effect is kind of cool.

  6. Great serie!
    There is nothing like being part of the process that gives us the food we eat.
    I think about your bees whenever I eat that sweet honey, and the work they've done (as well as yourself!)
    I always knew why maple syrup was pricy, bowling down all that wonderful makes it that much sweeter!

  7. Elisabeth, the $17/litre Eu charges is seeming AWFULLY cheap to me now!!


Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!